AMES — Iowa State wrestling coach Kevin Dresser pulled Sam Colbray (174) aside in the parking lot before weigh ins.
Dresser told his wrestler that he’s 50-50 on whether or not he’s going to wrestle him.
Colbray was sick earlier in the week. That’s on top of his already new weight cut down to 174 pounds from 184 where he wrestled at the start of the season.
Dresser said he was going to read Colbray's body language before the match and make the decision then.
“After the 157-match as we hit the break, I said, ‘Colbray, come here. What do you think?’” Dresser said. “He said, ‘I want to fight. I want to fight.’ I could tell by the way he was carrying himself in that moment that he was a guy that needed to wrestle.”
Colbray upset No. 5 Bryce Steiert of UNI 7-6 thanks to a takedown with 30 seconds left in the match and a rideout.
That win propelled Iowa State to beat UNI 18-16 on Sunday in Hilton Coliseum. It was the Cyclones’ first win over the Panthers since the 2015-16 season.
“He’s a strong dude,” Colbray said of Steiert. “Coach Derek St. John is really good at riding and he always says don’t let anything get stagnant. If I stay in one position, he can continue to build up. So I kept switching off with my ride in the last 30 seconds and transitioned to ankles and then to wrists to try and hold him down.
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“More than anything it was heart vs. heart in that position. If he escapes, we’re in over time. I didn’t want to lose something that was right there. That was pure heart at the end of the match.”
When it was over, Colbray stayed on all fours for a moment and let the cheers from Hilton Coliseum cascade down upon him. Dresser said that was the most electric Hilton crowd he’s felt since he took over in 2017.
“It was humbling,” Colbray said. “I’ve felt worse in the room and in a million different situations — doing sprints. This was easy money. What I do out on the mat and what we do out on the mat is only a fragment of what we do and the work that we put in. I got a little bit of candy today but there’s a big pot of candy at the end of the rainbow.”
Dresser said from the beginning that Colbray’s descent to 174 was to put him high on the podium or in the finals of the NCAA Championships.
Dresser beleives Colbray is finally getting to that level after taking a few lumps during his initial descent. Colbray has put together three straight wins — including one against No. 10 Anthony Mantanona of Oklahoma and now one against No. 5 Steiert.
“He’s getting tougher,” Dresser said. “As he continues to get tougher, he’s going to be a hard guy to beat because he can really wrestle. Toughness is what it boils down to. When you get to Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Tournament, there are a lot of really good wrestlers, so toughness is what’s going to get Sam Colbray high on the podium.”
Iowa State took six out of the 10 matches against UNI en-route to the victory. Jay Schwarm’s pin at 125 and Taylor Lujan’s major decision at 184 kept UNI in the meet, but Iowa State was able to pull it out thanks to Colbray’s upset.
“We got a little Hilton Magic today and that was fun,” Dresser said. “I’m excited about the effort we gave. We fought hard in all positions and we fought hard in all weights and that’s what you have to do. And you have to throw one in there where you’re not supposed to win. Obviously, at 174, we weren’t supposed to win.
“That’s how you elevate yourself and that’s how you win big dual meets. We’ve seen a lot of great dual meets this year and that was one of them.”
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