UNI wrestling media day was Wednesday, and Head Coach Doug Schwab had two major themes to bring to the media’s attention, and it’s not exactly a new message from the sixth year coach:
“What I’ve been most impressed with this fall has been the output. And that’s what we’ve tried to focus [on] with our team, Schwab said on Wednesday. “Don’t worry about results, worry about output. Put out as much as you can, try to score as many points as you can, try to be an entertaining wrester. Compete a certain way.”
Last year was a rough year for the Panthers, who finished 8-8 overall in duals and only crowned one MAC Champion – 165 pounder Cooper Moore. UNI also finished in the bottom half at the conference tournament, in sixth place.
“Obviously the season didn’t go the way we wanted, we finished with a couple guys in the round of twelve, you end up .500 in your dual season,” Schwab said. “But more than anything how we competed wasn’t what I think of UNI wrestling, what I think when I think about PantherTrain and what we’re about.”
Schwab knows that he and his squad need to do better this season, and the wrestler who sets the tone for output? The bookend Blaize Cabell. Schwab spoke highly of his 285 pounder both on and off the mat.
“I love how he competes. he probably set the mark for us last year as how we want guys to compete. And that’s a heavyweight. I think that’s a pretty big deal when you have a guy who competes at that level and tries to score that many points. He’s been a leader for us, I’ve seen him grow as man too.”
“I’ll tell you one thing about Blaize, he got most improved two years in a row. I do believe that he’s made that next level jump where he’s one of the best guys in the country.”
From most improved to the unknown we move to 157 pounds, where true freshman Bryce Steiert looks to take over that weight as senior Jarrett Jensen drops down to 149 pounds.
Schwab wasn’t exactly forthcoming when the question was asked about any freshman starting, but did say that he believes that UNI will start one.
“It’s not going to be a big secret, I do believe we’ll start a true freshman this year, [it is] the first time that I’ve done it. We have some wrestle-offs this weekend, so that could change some things. It’s got to be the right guy though, it’s got to be the right fit.”
Schwab later mentioned that Steiert and Zach Witte were battling it out at 157, all but confirming who the true freshman would be. Talking with Steiert a little later he mentioned that the other 157 pounders – Taylor Berger, Paden Moore, and Seth Stetzel – were hurt, so he didn’t know if he would even have a wrestle-off this weekend.
Jensen, who just barely missed the NCAA tournament last year, has impressed Schwab with his weight drop
“Jensen is moving down to 49, he’s one of the most disciplined kids, if not the most disciplined kid I’ve ever been around,” Schwab said of his old 157 pounder. “We talked to him last spring about doing it, and he’s done it right. He’s done more research, he was teaching me things on how do to things even better, he’s done it to a whole other level. There’s not many guys who would be diligent enough, and have that kind of vision to start in May to start (cutting weight). It’s going to pay off for him.”
“He had some really big wins last year at 57, and I’m excited to see what he’s going to do at 49.”
Cooper Moore, two-time defending MAC champion at 165 pounds, might miss some time this season due to another injury. This time the injury is to his left elbow, whereas last year it was his right that slowed him down. Coach Schwab wasn’t ready to set a timetable for his return, but left it open to Moore.
“You know last year you’re in the middle of a season, so you don’t really have time to give the guy off. We want to get him back healthy, and he’s been getting back out drilling now, and if we pressed him, yeah, he could go. No national titles are won in November. So we’re building him for the future, and really we’ve been able to focus on some things that maybe he wouldn’t have spent time doing.”
Jumping down to 125 pounds, Schwab talked about the ability to bounce back and recover.
“I think that’s a one in a hundred tournament for him (last years NCAA tournament, where Peters went 0-2), I really do. Sometimes those things happen, but the big thing with any true competition how do they recoup from that? Do they stay down here or are they able to build themselves back up?”
Schwab talked about Peters’ footwork, specifically, in being able for the Panther to take the next step. He mentioned a match where Peters’ wrestled against Wyoming’s Tyler Cox, where neither wrestler touched each other for a full 20 seconds, which isn’t where Peters wants to be.
“He’s best when things are mixing up, especially when he’s hands on, because he does have a knockout blow. He knocked out the NCAA champion last year with that, he’s got that against anybody (Dylan’s cow catcher). He’s got a lot of tools that sometimes he gets stuck into one thing. We really worked on footwork because that opens a lot of his offense.
For the weights where there isn’t a guy who jumps out at you, things will be decided this Saturday at UNI’s wrestle offs. It looks like 141, 157, 174, and 197 are all still up in the air.
Trevor Jauch and Jake Hodges will fight for the 141 pound spot, Adam Drain and Kyle Lux at 174, and Jared Bartel and Cody Krumwiede at 197. Of course others could enter the fray, but that’s how I see things shaping up right now.
We’ll have more from media day tomorrow and Friday. The internet was a little slow in the West Gym so I couldn’t get videos uploaded, but we’ll have interviews with Peters, Alber, Steiert, Moore, and Cabell. I also wanted to get Jensen, but he was off at this thing called, “class,” and wasn’t available today.