By Tom Kroeschell
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Amateur Wrestling News and The Open Mat announced its winners of the 2012-13 Amateur Wrestling News awards. Sophomore All-Americans Kyven Gadson and Michael Moreno each took home awards. The awards were a long time coming.
Gadson was named the 2013 “Comeback Wrestler of the Year” and received the “Courage Award”. The 197-pounder finished the season 30-4 with a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines.
"Although the season didn't end the way I wanted it to, it was nice to get some recognition," Gadson said. "The awards are a good stepping stone for this year."
The Waterloo, Iowa was sidelined most of last season, as he went down with a severe shoulder injury early in the year. Gadson’s father, Willie, who was a two-time conference champion and two-time All-American at Iowa State, passed away losing a yearlong battle with cancer a week before the NCAA Championships.
"It has definitely been a long year with everything myself and my family have been going through," Gadson said. "I thank my mom, coaches, family, friends and fans for all the support. I wouldn't have been able to get through it all without them."
Head coach Kevin Jackson was there 100 percent of the way to help Gadson through this season.
"I don't think he could have handled everything any better than he did," Jackson said. "Since day one of his dad's diagnosis up until the day Willie passed, Kyven has handled everything like a mature adult. He's handled it like a champion and was still able to compete at a high-level despite it all."
On March 9 in Stillwater, Okla. Gadson took home a the Big 12 title at his respective weight. The title made Gadson and his late father, Willie, the first father-son duo to win conference titles in the storied history of ISU wrestling.
"My dad helped instill a toughness factor in me," Gadson said. "He was a great mentor and an even better father."
Moreno was tabbed the 2013 “Most Improved College Wrestler”. The 165-pounder finished the season 31-10, placing sixth at the NCAA Championships. Last season while wrestling at 157 pounds, Moreno finished the year 4-17. The Urbandale, Iowa native's 27-win improvement will go down as one of the greatest single season turnarounds in Cyclone history.
“I really changed my mindset this year,” Moreno said. “This year brought a ton of confidence to me and proved to our team that if we’re willing to put in another tough off-season of work, that anything is possible.”
Like Gadson, Moreno’s father, Mike, is also a former All-American at ISU. Moreno and Gadson, along with their father’s Mike and the late Willie, stamped their names in the ISU wrestling record books at the NCAA Championships in late March, as they became the first father-son duos in Cyclone singlets to become All-Americans.