The University of Northern Iowa put together one of their best seasons in program history this season as former Iowa Hawkeye assistant and Osage, Iowa high school prep Doug Schwab led the Panthers to a 13-0 duals season. He had a successful national tournament as well coaching three Panthers (Dylan Peters – 125, Joe Colon – 133, and Joey Lazor – 141) to All America honors, the first time the program had achieved that since 2002. Coach Schwab was generous with his time and allowed me to ask him a few questions about both his 2013-14 success, and what his team needs to do to get even better.
Q: You led the Panthers to the only undefeated dual season in Division I this year, how much did that mean to you and your team to have such a great accomplishment?
It was great accomplishment for our team to be the only D1 team undefeated in duals and really showed that we were a true Team rising to the occasion each and every time out. Making history in this program is not an easy thing to do so having done that this season makes us proud of what were able to do as a TEAM.
Q: You have now coached in two conferences, and you are becoming a presence in the MAC. What are your thoughts on the transition for UNI? Also, what do you like about competing in the MAC?
The MAC tournament prepares us more for the NCAA tournament which is why we made the move. We want to keep putting more guys on the stand year in and year out and the competition in the MAC helps battle test us to do that.
Q: You had a fantastic 1-2 punch with Peters and Colon this year. How important is it when you know you can turn to those two to start your dual off on the right foot?
They set the tone for team in how they compete and attack. They are always trying to score points and that mentality rubs off on the rest of the team. I could not think of two better guys to start off with.
Q: Speaking of Peters, he is your only returning All American, do you think Peters will be looked to as a leader on next year’s team?
Dylan is quiet but leads by how he lives and trains. We are excited about his future and showing young guys that you don’t have to wait to have an impact you can do it right away. Having a freshman place is huge for the program moving forward.
Q: The panther lineup features a lot of high school talent from Iowa. Being an Iowan yourself how important is the success of Iowa High School to keeping our sport thriving?
We want the right kind of kids from Iowa or any state. We want to keep Iowa the center of the wrestling world and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep it that way. We are fortunate to be in the state of Iowa where wrestling is important, kids grow up with it in their blood and can’t wait to be on the big stage at one of the state schools. The stronger the state of Iowa is in wrestling the better it is for wrestling in general. We should not lose any Iowa boys to any school outside of Iowa.
Q: You also have had success landing out of state talent, sum up if you would Freshman Cooper Moore’s season.
Cooper had a quality season. As a freshman he opened many eyes around the country but was no surprise to us. He did not finish like he wanted and is determined to not feel that again in the future. As a freshman he has already become a leader on our team, guys look to him and we can’t wait to see how he continues to develop.
Q: You have also landed very talented recruits Josh Alber and Adarios Jones from out of state. Do you have any comments about them, and anyone else joining your program?
We are excited about the type of wrestlers and men these two will become. They have had a ton of success already we just look to continue to build on and bring it to another level here at UNI.These two are going to be names that you hear for years to come we just can’t wait to get them on campus.
Q: Levi Wolfensperger will have an opportunity to win another starting spot, what’s it like to know you have an incredible veteran presence coming off your “bench”?
Levi was behind two of the best guys in the country in Colon and Lazor, fortunately for him those two will still be in our room preparing him for St. Louis next season. He did not like the position he was in this season, but that will be used as fuel for his senior year. I look forward to the 1-2 punch of Peters and Wolfensperger next season. He wants to finish his career the right way and we will help him do it.
Q: You were able to take down ISU this season, what was that like to win against an in state rival?
It was great win for the team, they had beat us the last three years so that was not sitting very well with our seniors. It was great for the fans who came out and packed the West Gym they make for such and incredible atmosphere, we could not asked for a better environment. It is always great for the University to beat Iowa State in anything, we are not the little brothers in the state and that is an opportunity to show it.
Q: Finally, what do you think you and your team need to work on this off-season?
A few areas that we will stress with all of our athletes will be leg defense/head position/set-ups and hand fighting. These are all interrelated but we have to increasingly stingy competitors and not give any easy points and it all stems from positioning and attitude when guys get to us. We will also work on bottom, we have spent a ton of time here but need to get so the team is so hard to ride and keep down. It will help us feel free to take more risk because we aren’t scared to get underneath a guys because we feel like we will get ridden. Those are two areas of concentration for our team among others but we also have individual areas that we will focus on. I look forward to watching the team make a jump this spring and summer. The work has already started for next season.
As you can see Schwab had some really good comments in there, and you can really see the results for yourself on the team he is building. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the three All Americans for the Panthers were all lightweights and it appears Schwab is bringing over the blue print from Iowa. Now I am not saying Coach Schwab is trying to be like Iowa, but you can’t deny that the similarities with both programs having great depth and talented lightweights. It makes sense because that is what Schwab learned as an assistant at Iowa, and he was a lightweight himself. Schwab is slowly bringing in the talent at the upperweights, and you can see that it is beginning to translate into success. Cooper Moore was a fringe 100 prospect out of high school, and as a freshman came out and knocked off a top 5 ranked Steven Monk. The future looks bright for the Purple and Gold with Coach Schwab at the helm.
What did you think of the interview? Feel free to drop your thoughts down below.