#4 Virginia Tech comes into the West Gym this Friday to take on the Panthers in a non-conference dual. UNI brings an 11 home match winning streak onto the mat Friday, the two most recent being two wins over MAC opponents. The dual will be Military Appreciation Night at UNI.
“I’m looking forward to Virginia Tech, they have a really good team and we’re going to have to be on our game.” Head UNI Coach Doug Schwab said last Saturday after his squad swept Buffalo 37-0. “But that’s something that as a competitor you’ve gotta love.”
Virginia Tech is on 8-1 on the year and is coming off a 16-15 win over Virginia to win the Virginia Duals. They also beat fellow MAC teams Kent State (29-15) and Old Dominion (19-15) at the event.
The Hokies bring in wrestlers ranked at seven weights, led by 141 pounder and number three ranked Devin Carter. Virginia Tech also brings in a pair of number four ranked wrestlers in Joey Dance at 125 and Nick Brascetta at 157.
The premiere matchup of the night will probably be the first one, with #6 Dylan Peters going up against Dance. These two met earlier this season in Las Vegas, with Dance getting a pinfall win 3:20.
“Peters gets to wrestle a kid that has beat him twice,” Coach Schwab said at his weekly press conference, “I know that he’s looking forward to that match.”
The only other match that features two ranked wrestlers is on the other side of the dual, with heavyweights Blaize Cabell and Ty Walz each bringing in a 15 and a 7 rank, respectively. This will be a big test for Cabell, who will look to keep the offensive style that he has put up the last two duals against one of the best heavyweights in the country. Cabell had a total of 17 takedowns in two dual matches over the weekend.
The Panthers will be favored (at least by rank) in only one other match, and that will be only if Cooper Moore wrestles at 165. He sat out last Saturday’s dual against Buffalo, but as Schwab said, “he’s dealing with something, he’s got a big brace on his arm, there’s no hiding that. He’s learning how to wrestle with it.”
At 133 Leighton Gaul will look to start a streak in duals again, after winning by pinfall over Sean Peacock last week. Gaul was in control of the match the entire way before whipping Peacock over. He has a tough match against #18 Kevin Norstrem, but if Gaul can pull the upset it will mean his hard work bumping up to 133 pounds since Levi Wolfensperger has been out of the lineup has paid off.
Jake Hodges looks to be the Panther who gets #3 Carter at 141 pounds. This will be a bigger test for Hodges, who has struggled at times this season finishing matches, then the previous two duals presented. Schwab is still looking for big things from Hodges late in periods and matches.
#13 Sal Mastriani comes in at 149 to take on UNI’s Gunnar Wolfensperger, who had a 10-0 victory against Austin Culton from Northern Illinois and then a come from behind win against Buffalo’s Justin Cooksey that really riled up the Panther crowd. Mastriani is a tough opponent though, he placed 4th at The Midlands earlier this season, and he will be a good gage for where Wolfensperger is on the national scene.
157 will see the MAC’s fourth ranked wrestler in Jarrett Jensen battle #4 Brascetta or Jake Spengler. Brascetta has not wrestled since last November, and Spengler got the nod at the Virginia Duals. This is a match that an improved Jensen can win, and one that he will have to win if the Panthers have any chance of an upset.
174 sees another uphill battle for the Panthers, as Curt Maas takes on the #9 ranked wrestler in the country in Zach Epperly. Epperly is coming off a loss to #5 ranked Blaise Butler from Virginia, so he will be looking to put up some bonus points against the Panther. Maas is a coming off a 1-1 weekend, losing in sudden victory to Northern Illinois’ Trace Engelkes.
At 184 and 197 Cody Caldwell and Basil Minto look to improve on their weekends by taking on Austin Gabel and Jared Haught. Caldwell is ranked (number 20) in some polls and is looking to really grab a spot by beating an opponent is about on his level, rank and skill wise. Minto looks to keep building on his senior year, after a 15-6 major decision on Saturday Minto looked about as good as he ever has in a Panther singlet. Both of these matches are ones that UNI needs to win the dual.
Coach Schwab stressed the importance of fans coming out on Friday night and filling up the West Gym.
“We need this place packed to the rafters. We need people crawling out of every spot; we can put people up in that…I don’t even know what that is…[he’s reffering to an old press box] that overhang,” Schwab said of the environment. “We need to have this place packed. Our guys love when that kind of atmosphere is out here. And the other team, I don’t think, really enjoys that very much.”
The dual can be seen on Panthers All-Access, found at UNIPanthers.com. IAWrestle will be in Cedar Falls as well, giving you play by play from our Twitter feed, @IAWrestle. We’ll also have a full dual recap following Friday night’s dual. All the action starts at 7PM.
All rankings used for this article have been from Intermat, and the team rankings are Intermat’s dual teams, not the tournament rankings. Full lists of rankings from Intermat can be found at this link.
UNI vs #4 Virginia Tech
125 – #6 Dylan Peters vs #4 Joey Dance
133 – Leighton Gaul vs #18 Kevin Norstrem
141 – Jake Hodges vs #3 Devin Carter
149 – Gunnar Wolfensperger vs #13 Sal Mastriani
157 – Jarrett Jensen vs #4 Nick Brascetta or Jake Spengler
165 – #12 Cooper Moore vs Chad Strube
174 – Curt Maas vs #9 Zach Epperly
184 – Cody Caldwell vs Austin Gabel
197 – Basil Minto or Cody Krumwiede vs Jared Haught
285 – #15 Blaize Cabell vs #7 Ty Walz