The star of Iowa wrestling is Chuck Yagla, who won the NCAA title at 150 pounds last year and agrees that he could be described as an all-conference goody-goody. "Yeah, well, I guess I don't party as much or drink as much as some of the others," he says. "I try to wrestle for the glory of God."
Yagla admits there is also a more earthly reason he wrestles. "There's a lot of satisfaction grabbing somebody and doing something to him that he doesn't want you to do and him not being able to stop you," he says. Yagla gets his way almost every time out. He lost twice in 37 matches last year, only once this season. Although a mite short on talent, he's long on conditioning and smarts. After winning the NCAA championship, Yagla sheepishly concedes that he went nuts. He drank two glasses of sloe gin and orange juice at a party. But he left the gathering early and got to bed at a respectable hour. "Chuck is the kind of guy you would like your daughter to marry," says Kurdelmeier, forgetting that Yagla is already married.
Then there's Chris Campbell from Westfield, N.J., who wrestles at 177 pounds and says he comes from a "classic ghetto situation—no father, a mother who works for white people, the whole bit." So what is Campbell doing at Iowa? "I was the best and I wanted the best," he says. He may be right. Campbell was second in the NCAAs last year, has an excess of natural ability and thinks he is changing for the better.' I used to be conceited," he says. "Fortunately, I lost that. The coaches here kept telling me, 'You're not as great as you think you are.' They really got on my case. Now I believe them."
Iowa State has no returning NCAA titlists, but there are a number of Cyclones who could be waving their index fingers above their heads later this year. The most likely to do so is Galea, a senior who normally wrestles at 150 pounds and was fourth in the national championships last year. He admits to inconsistency but says, "You ought to see me when I really whale on somebody." Galea came west with his buddy, 126-pounder Bob Antonacci. What did his friends back home in New York think about his choice of schools? They first confused it with Ohio, then they teased him by saying, "There's nothing out there but cornfields and farm girls." Says Galea, "Neither of them is so bad."
State also has 177-pound Willie Gad-son, another New Yorker, who got so worked up before the Iowa match that he ripped an arm off a practice dummy, and 118-pound Johnnie Jones, the Cyclones' biggest surprise. He called all over the country begging schools to give him a chance to prove he deserved a scholarship. "Nobody wanted me," Jones says, and Coach Harold Nichols admits, "I didn't know how good he was." Jones, who is in his first season at State after two years at Michigan's Schoolcraft Junior College, is 27-0 this season.
His 27th victory came against Iowa. He ran to the mat hollering, "I'm gonna get me some fried Hawkeye." And he certainly did, winning a 9-3 decision over Mark Mysnyk to give the Cyclones an early 3-0 lead.
In a strategic move earlier in the day, State decided not to have its star, Galea, wrestle Yagla at 150 pounds. Nichols replaced him with Joe Zuspann, conceding that weight class to Iowa, but freeing Galea to wrestle at 158, where he was considered a certain winner. Thus the Cyclones seemed sure of only one loss in the two weights. When Yagla triumphed easily to give Iowa an 11-6 lead, the plan seemed to be a good one.
Then Galea came out amid roars from the Cyclones' fans. "Man, this is what wrestling should always be about," he said, before running confidently onto the mat. But Galea did not allow for the possibility that McGivern might know the difference between a full Nelson and a hot shower. McGivern did.
With 29 seconds left in the bout, Galea had a two-point lead and seemed to be heading for a nothing-special win. Then McGivern pulled off a reverse to tie the score. Galea grappled back into the lead with a one-point escape with 14 seconds to go, and Nichols' plan again looked good. But with eight seconds remaining, McGivern scored a startling standing arm drag takedown for two points. So although Galea was awarded one point for riding time, the match was tied. "I was trying too hard for a pin," said Galea. "I didn't notice that," said McGivern, who was raised along with 1,000 hogs on a farm near Marengo, Iowa.
Then came the feature match, State's Gadson against Iowa's Campbell at 177 pounds. When push came to shove, Campbell prevailed 7-6. "But as the match went on, he felt stronger and I felt weaker," Campbell said later. "My stomach cramped. I was so tired. I need a break."