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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
The 2009-2010 college wrestling season for the Cyclones officially starts this Thursday, November 12, with a home dual meet against South Dakota State, at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. Highly-anticipated as always will be the annual showdown between Iowa State and the defending NCAA Div. I national champions, the Iowa Hawkeyes, which takes place Sunday, December 6, also at home for Iowa State. The Iowa-Iowa State wrestling rivalry has historically been one of the greatest in all of American sports.
We spoke at length with Kevin Jackson about what to expect this season. Iowa State has a strong returning team, with several All-Americans including 2009 NCAA Div. I national champion Jake Varner, who wrestles at 197 pounds. We discussed who are the likely starters at this point, the prospects for Iowa State to unseat Iowa as national champions, and the importance of many college wrestlers having wrestled freestyle for their college performance. We also discussed Kevin's own wrestling career, his adjustment from coaching freestyle for USA Wrestling to heading a college program, and the lessons he gained from finishing second at the 1987 NCAA Div. I National Championships which prepared him to win an Olympic and two world championships in freestyle.
And, of course, we also discussed mixed martial arts. Kevin was one of the first elite wrestlers to compete in Extreme Fighting and UFC in the 1990s. He explained why he believes that freestyle wrestling is actually a better preparation than Greco-Roman for mixed martial arts, how another wave of elite wrestlers are set to dominate that sport, and what can be done to keep top wrestlers from leaving wrestling prematurely.
We also discussed the ongoing failure of wrestling to promote itself properly, the need to master technology to get the story out, and much more.
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