Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Iowa State 165-pounder Andrew Sorenson embodies the long-standing tradition of Cyclone wrestling and its championship-caliber wrestlers. As Iowa State's only senior starter this season, Sorenson leads a group of young grapplers with his focus and fight.
"Andrew takes on the identity of our team and what we are trying to create," Iowa State head coach Kevin Jackson said. "As a leader you have to continue to let underclassmen see that side of what we want to be. I couldn't ask for a better leader at this time in our program."
One of the most dedicated members on the team, Sorenson has spent every summer during his five-year career in Ames to train. During winter break this year, there were only two days Sorenson did not train in the three-week period: Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Teammate and roommate Max Mayfield has been close with Sorenson for nearly four years. A redshirt junior, Mayfield says Sorenson's ability to focus at crunch time but still have fun off the mat sets a huge example for other grapplers.
"He's the guy you want to be like in practice," 141-pounder Mayfield said. "He's just a fighter and every time he steps on the mat he's trying to do the best he can, beat everyone he can, no matter who he has."
In his final season at Iowa State, Sorenson has more time to focus on his passion. The redshirt senior obtained his bachelor's in kinesiology last spring and is currently working to complete his master's in higher education with plans to become a strength coach.
"I have a lot more time to devote to wrestling," Sorenson said. "I put in a ton of extra work especially in the preseason. I get extra drills, more time to watch film, more lifts and more runs. I'm devoted to wrestling."
Fifth-ranked Sorenson leads the Cyclones with 18 overall wins and 21 dual takedowns. He remains perfect in dual competition, with victories over five ranked opponents.
Sorenson has earned bonus points in 11 of his 18 victories this season. At the annual Harold Nichols Cyclone Open Nov. 13, Sorenson claimed the 165-pound title with two pins and two technical falls. The Woden, Iowa native recently steamrolled his highest-ranked opponent yet in a 17-4 major decision over No. 7 Pete Yates of Virginia Tech on Friday.
"Andrew is very driven and you can see it by the way he trains and his commitment to the sport and the work he has put in," Iowa State assistant coach Yero Washington said. "He has the will to become a champion and it has shown this year by his results, but he's also been a vocal leader on the team in addition to leading on the mat."
Much of Sorenson's drive comes from an 18-hour drive he made to Philadelphia for the NCAA Championships last year. After an elbow injury in late February, Sorenson was off the mat for the remainder of the season and watched his teammates compete amidst the spectators.
"I have dreamed of being a national champion since I was a little kid watching wrestling on IPTV (Iowa Public Television)," Sorenson said. "But it didn't become a reality until I had to watch from the stands in Philadelphia."
Watching the 2011 NCAA Championships gave Sorenson the confidence he has carried with him through the 2011-12 season. With only four duals remaining, Sorenson prepares for his final matches in Cardinal and Gold.
"When you put on an Iowa State singlet you are wrestling for generations of Iowa State and there is a legacy of greatness you have to uphold," Sorenson said. "It's bigger than yourself. It's the Cyclone nation."
Growing up on a farm in north central Iowa, Sorenson has understood the commitment level and attitude of many generations of Cyclone wrestlers for a long time. The 23-year-old has been "all in" from the beginning. Sorenson made a sacrifice his sophomore year, cutting down to 157 pounds for the starting spot. Last year he was in nearly the same position rankings-wise and record-wise before suffering the elbow injury.
"Andrew is continuing to buy into the program and the technical, tactical and mental aspects we want our wrestlers to compete with," Jackson said. "We talk about being all in and he's been all in from the start."
Iowa State hits the road this week for two Big 12 bouts with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones face the Sooners at 7 p.m. (CST) in Norman, Okla., on Friday and round out the conference slate with the Cowboys at 2 p.m. (CST) Sunday in Stillwater, Okla.