By Ashley Ruden
Iowa State head wrestling coach Kevin Jackson and the USA Cadet wrestling team are back in the US from the World Championships, and they did not empty-handed.
Jackson is a very competitive, humble coach that has always had passion for not only his wrestlers but USA wrestling as well.
Before becoming Iowa State’s head wrestling coach in 2008, Jackson had previously coached the National Freestyle USA wrestling team from 2001-2008. He himself has also been a two-time World Champion (1991, 1995) and an Olympic gold medalist (1992.)
Jackson believes he will always be apart of the Olympic wrestling movement.
“I have a passion for freestyle wrestling, I find going and coaching these young kids refreshing,” said Jackson.
Wrestlers on the Cadet team are 16 years old and younger. Training began in early June and Jackson was gone a lot throughout the summer at training camps helping these guys prepare for the Cadet World Championships in Tbilsi, Georgia, in mid September.
The returning world champions for the United States are 220-pound wrestler Gable Steveson and 139-pound wrestler Yianni Diakomihalis; needless to say coach Jackson had high expectations for his team this year. The wrestlers exceed his expectations, 4 out of the 10 wrestles came back to the United States with medals. The wrestlers are held to high expectations because coach Jackson wants to see the United States become the best wrestling country in the world.
Coach Jackson was gone a lot throughout the summer and the beginning of this school year attending several different training cramps with the USA Cadet team. As for Iowa State wrestling, preseason recently began not too long ago.
“I’ve been in and out a lot the past couple of months, for weeks at a time and my guys do a fabulous job keeping things running around here,” Jackson said.
Assistant coaches Travis and Trent Paulson and volunteer coaches Angel Escobedo and Kyven Gadson know how coach Jackson wants things done in the wrestling room.
“KJ gives his assistants a big piece of the program so if he ever is gone, he knows nothing is going to skip a beat,” said assistant volunteer coach Angel Escobedo.
This wasn’t coach Jackson’s first time out of the country but for many wrestlers on the team, it was.
“Seeing how some of these guys that have never been in a foreign country before adapt to the amenities was very interesting and fun to watch,” said Jackson.
“It was a real privilege getting to coach these guys and see them compete, Jackson said. “The overall experience was a lot of fun and I think that’s where I’m going to hang my hat on.”