This article first ran in the Iowa State Daily on Wednesday, April 2, 2014. It can be found on the Iowa State Daily's website, or by following this link: http://bit.ly/1lCbWEH
Ames, Iowa – Looking back on his wrestling career at Iowa State, Boaz Beard could not have predicted some of the things that happened to him. From multiple injuries, to even taking a year off, the senior wrestler has been through a lot.
But according to the Kansas native, he’s right where he wants to be.
In the beginning
Beard’s journey started out at Goddard High School, which lies just outside of Wichita, Kan. Beard played a number of sports growing up, however it was quickly apparent to him that baseball and wrestling were his favorites.
Throughout his high school career, Beard had found more success not out on the field, but on the mat. And he found it early.
“He was a great kid, a hard worker and was very talented technically,” said Goddard High School wrestling coach Brett Means. “He started out always wrestling juniors and seniors during his freshman year. By the time he was a senior, no one was even close to him.”
By the end of his four-year tenure, Beard had compiled an overall record of 110-2, and was a four-time Kansas state champion. He also helped lead his team to two team championships, as well as a second-place finish.
With all of his success at the high school level, there was very little question that Beard would wrestle at the next level. Where he would end up was a much tougher question.
In fact, when National Signing Day came along, Beard had his heart set on wrestling at Oklahoma State. But the then-ISU coach Cael Sanderson was not going to let the four-time state champion slip through the cracks.
On the first official day of recruiting, Sanderson drove more than five hours to visit Beard and his family in their home.
“I was recruited by Cael Sanderson, I always looked up to him,” Beard said. “I enjoyed the campus and the school, so I moved here. Obviously the tradition here was great, and I wanted to be a national champion.”
However, prior to Beard's first season at Iowa State, Sanderson accepted a new job, and became the wrestling head coach at Penn State.
Sanderson did his best to recruit Beard to join the Nittany Lions, but ultimately Beards loyalty to Iowa State kept him on course in Ames.
“He felt more obligated that he had made a commitment to Iowa State,” Means said. “He didn’t really know how he would fit in in Pennsylvania. And he liked Kevin Jackson a lot. Kevin won him over.”
Beard redshirted his freshman season. At the conclusion of the season, however, he decided he had had enough.
Beard finished the academic year, and then transferred to Emporia State in Kansas, looking to get closer to home and ultimately away from athletics.
“I thought I was done wrestling,” Beard said. “I moved back, and initially wasn’t going to play baseball. I was just going to be done with sports.”
Beard’s decision to transfer was not solely a way to get closer to home. He had another reason to leave, a girl.
“The biggest mistake he made was falling in love,” Means said jokingly. “If you take almost two years off in something, you run out of time to catch up. From a wrestling perspective, he probably regrets it. He was so talented as a wrestler, but his first love was always baseball.”
Completely separated from athletics, Beard felt he had almost lost his competitive spirit. Before it was too late, he decided to give it one last go.
“I was playing broomball in a warehouse I was working in one night and thought why not try it out,” Beard said. “I tried out for the team and I sort of got my competitive edge back. Then I missed wrestling, so I came back.”
Beard rejoined the Cyclones the following year and started to get back into wrestling again.
“The year off really took a toll on me. I just put in a lot of hard work and time, and I ended up doing OK,” Beard said. “Overall, I expected wrestling to be fun. That’s what I came back for, and that’s what I got.”
During his first season back, Beard finished with a 10-7 record overall, and finished second at the Big 12 tournament. He earned a trip to the NCAA Championships that year, too.
The year off of training continued to affect him throughout that initial season, something ISU head coach Kevin Jackson noticed.
“I don’t think laying off a year of training brings you back in a great physical condition,” Jackson said. “The very first duals that year he was injured. Then the injuries just continued to plague him throughout his career. It’s probably held him back more than anything.”
Beard’s injuries played a role in this past season as well. He suffered an elbow injury early in the year, and came down with a virus shortly after recovering from the injury.
After being sidelined yet again during his senior season, Beard realized that he needed to change his focus.
“A lot of stuff can happen,” Beard said. “Nothing is going to be how you imagined it, you just need to roll with it and make the best with what you can. I just tried to make the most of it.”
With his wrestling career now over, Beard is starting to wrap things up at Iowa State. He is set to graduate in May and is working to get into physical therapy school at Wichita State.
And even though his wrestling days are done, many do not see Beard leaving the game anytime soon.
“I hope he comes around and continues to support wrestling,” Means said. “I hope he comes around the room, and if he wants to be my assistant coach, I’ll hire him. He’d be awesome.”