Three hundred and sixty four days.
That’s how much time had passed between big-time wrestling matches for ultra-competitive, but often injured Iowa State 197-pounder Kyven Gadson when he took the mat last Sunday against Jacob Henderson of Old Dominion.
Gadson won, 4-2.
Ironically, his arm was finally raised after he scored a takedown 12 seconds into the first “sudden” victory session.
“It’s hard to explain it,” said Gadson, who missed nearly a season because of shoulder troubles and joins his teammates for Saturday’s 7 p.m. dual at No. 4 Iowa. “Anxious — it was a number of emotions: happy, ready to go. And I guess a sigh of relief.”
Excuse the former FILA cadet freestyle national champion for taking a moment to exhale.
That 364-day span has been rife with mettle-testing moments on the mat and off of it.
In April, Gadson learned his father, Willie, a former Cyclone all-American, had been diagnosed with cancer.
He continues to fight the disease, but also resolved not to give up coaching at Waterloo East.
Or mentoring and cheering on his son, of course.
“He was like, ‘You know what? I just need to see my baby boy win a NCAA title,’” Kyven Gadson said on media day. “I actually wrote a speech about it last year. That was all the motivation I needed to get through everything — just knowing my family was going to be here to support me as well as my teammates.”
Cyclone coach Kevin Jackson called Gadson a leader, despite the sophomore’s relative inexperience at the collegiate level.
“Kyven’s a big piece of the program,” Jackson said on media day.
Gadson’s trying not to place too much emphasis on Saturday’s dual with the Hawkeyes.
The one-day-at-a-time mantra means something to him.
“Every match is just another match,” said Gadson, a two-time Iowa state high school champion with the Trojans. “If you put too much hype surrounding it you put extra pressure (on yourself). I just want to go in there and have fun. I definitely feel like it will be a fun environment for me and the team, to see if we can rise to the occasion. So I’m excited for that.”
So is dad, who will likely shift into coaching mode shortly after the meet.
Maybe even during it.
“It’s just good to know he’s the same old dad,” Gadson said. “It’s not affecting him too much.”
Same goes for the goals he shares with his son.
“The biggest thing for me is staying healthy,” Gadson said. “If I stay healthy I’ll put in the work to be where I need to be in March and throughout my career.”
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