“Misery loves company.”
In three words, that’s how Iowa State’s four-time All-American and 2021 NCAA champion David Carr describes cutting weight — particularly on an extended road trip — which the Cyclones are embarking on later this week.
“If we’re all starving besides (ISU heavyweight) Yonger (Bastida), I guess It’s kind of nice,” said Carr, whose Cyclones travel to face Arizona State on Friday and California Baptist on Sunday in a pair of far-flung dual meets. “We’re doing all this stuff together and we’re playing games. It is a fun time and we get to compete often very fast, so you’re making quick adjustments like that.”
As Carr — ranked #2 at 165 pounds by FloWrestling — spoke the final few words above he snapped his fingers. His fifth-ranked team, according to the NWCA coaches’ poll, is poised to grow during its nearly one-week westward excursion, and a potential top-five matchup looms between Bastida and Arizona State’s three-time All-American heavyweight Cohlton Schultz, who hasn’t wrestled a folkstyle match this season.
Bastida, a 2022 All-American who bumped up from 197 this season, is ranked #3. Schultz, a freestyle standout on the world level, is ranked fifth.
“I think that would be exciting for the fans,” said Cyclone head coach Kevin Dresser, whose team is relatively healthy except for Casey Swiderski, who will be replaced by two-time NCAA qualifier Zach Redding in the lineup at 149 pounds. “You’ve got two guys who are obviously in the top five right now and anytime you can get that that’s great. I know Yonger’s super-excited to wrestle him. He wants to feel him and he wants to see what he’s about. Cohlton was really competing hard to make the Greco Olympic spot and I think he’s put himself in a good position to do that in the first semester. So I think this would be his first folkstyle match of the year, which is kind of crazy to think that you’re gonna wrestle Yonger Bastida (in) your first match of the year, but he’s competed on the world stage his whole life, so he’ll be fine.”
Dresser’s team is coming off a 3-0 performance at the Collegiate Duals in Nashville that included wins over fellow highly-ranked teams such as Pittsburgh and Cornell. Carr — who owns a career mark of 104-4 — narrowly lost a match, 4-3, against the Rams’ Julian Ramirez in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational earlier this season, but didn’t get a chance for a rematch at the Collegiate Duals. He pinned Cornell’s 165-pound backup Benny Rogers instead.
“They didn’t wrestle all their guys,” Carr said. “I was definitely looking forward to that match. That was something I had circled, but (there) were some other plans, so I guess I’ll just be able to get a different matchup maybe later on. For me, the most important thing is March and nationals, so whoever I wrestle, it doesn’t matter, as long as I’m able to go get my goals.”
Carr’s presence — though ultra-intense on the mat — helps keep the Cyclones calm and poised through every situation, whether at home or on the road. As for the games they play off the mat, they unfold as intensely as expected, even as coaches join the fray.
“We play this one game, it might be called ‘password,’” Carr said. “But that one gets riled up, like we get (assistant coach and two-time NCAA champion Brent) Metcalf (and) some of the coaches involved, and that one is very, like, that one gets fired up. So it’s fun.”
Iowa State’s Anthony Echemendia and Yonger Bastida share a bond that can’t be broken. They grew up together in Cuba. They wrestled together from a young age. And even though Echemendia — a 141-pounder who is 10-3 his season — and Bastida tip the scales 100-plus pounds apart, they’re understandably closer than their weights would indicate.
“He’s always motivating me, I’m always motivating him,” Echemendia said. “I’m always looking out for him and vice versa. I can’t even explain how grateful I am for him and how good it is to have someone in your life that you can count on no matter what. It’s just super special. We’re brothers.”
Bastida fully concurs.
“I can say it’s a dream,” Bastida said earlier this season. “Coming from the same place back in Cuba and then being there for about 10 years in the same room, the same classroom, the same dorms, and now being here in the United States and Iowa State — representing ISU and our country too, it’s a dream. … Two people from the same place, growing up together, being here and doing great things? It’s a dream.”
Iowa State 157-pound freshman Cody Chittum’s brimming with talent and Friday against the Sun Devils he’ll likely get another huge test against #4 Jacori Teemer. Chittum has already faced three top-10 opponents this season, and two of those matches were decided by a total of three points.
“He’s had some ups and downs already, but I know he’s super-excited to wrestle a guy where nobody’s really giving him much of a chance,” Dresser said. “That’s gonna be a good test for him. I know he’s pumped about that.”