Who: Northern Iowa vs Virginia Tech
Date: Friday, January 15th, 2016
Time: 6PM (CST)
Location: Moss Art Center, Blacksburg, VA
Video: Hokies Xtra
Online: Follow us on Twitter, @IAwrestle, for updates
UNI Panthers 2-4 (1-2 MAC)
125- Leighton Gaul
133- #17 Josh Alber
141- Trevor Jauch or Jake Koethe
149- Jake Hodges
157- Bryce Steiert
165- #8 Cooper Moore or Taylor Berger
174- Kyle Lux or Drew Foster
184- Cody Caldwell
197- Jared Bartel
285- #15 Blaize Cabell
#12 Virginia Tech Hokies 7-2 (0-0 ACC)
125- #3 Joey Dance
133- Dennis Gustafson
141- #11 Solomon Chishko
149- Sal Mastriani
157- #4 Nick Brascetta or Jake Spengler
165- #19 David McFadden
174- #4 Zach Epperly or Cody Hughes
184- #14 Zack Zavatsky
197- #8 Jared Haught or Austin Gabel
285- #3 Ty Walz
The Panthers containue their road trip this weekend with a visit to Blacksburg, Virginia where they will take on #12 Virginia Tech in a dual meet. The dual will be held in Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center, which isn’t your typical setting for a wrestling meet; the Moss Arts Center is a theatre that usually opens it’s doors for concerts, plays, and musicals. This is the second year the Hokies have hosted duals at the venue, sweeping three duals there last year.
To continue that streak Head Coach Kevin Dresser and the Hokies will welcome in Northern Iowa, who goes into Blacksburg after having split a pair of road duals last week. The Panthers fell 22-14 to Eastern Michigan, but defeated Northern Illinois 24-12 to get their first conference dual win of the season. UNI is a little banged up, but look to return one top 10 wrestler in Cooper Moore at 165 pounds.
There are a couple potential top-20 matches for Friday night, with the most interesting one coming at the bottom of the list. Heavyweights Blaize Cabell and Tyl Walz met twice last year – once at the UNI/VTech dual in Cedar Falls, once at the NCAA Tournament – with Cabell coming out on top both times. Walz closed the gap on Cabell a little bit in the second match, losing in sudden victory, but Cabell will be looking to improve his ranking and potentially his seeding at the national tournament this year. This is a big match for both wrestlers in terms of seeding, but maybe more so for Cabell, as he faces less top-20 talent at heavyweight in the MAC.
The other potential top-20 match comes at 165, where the aforementioned Moore returns for the Panthers. Moore hasn’t wrestled since The Midlands, where he suffered a concussion in a second-round match. He’ll wrestle #19 David McFadden, who just dropped a match to Tanner Weatherman from Iowa State last week. These two have yet to wrestle each other in college.
At 133 pounds Dennis Gustafson has been banged up for VTech with a knee injury, but he wrestled in all four matches at the Virginia Duals, dropping his last match late to Iowa State’s Earl Hall. Gustafson is a dangerous wrestler though, he had one pinfall and one tech fall at the Virginia Duals. UNI’s #17 wrestler will have his hands full.
157 may feature two unranked wrestlers, which may come as a bit of a surprise. UNI’s true freshmen Bryce Steiert hasn’t dropped a match since The Midlands, and was ranked #20 in last weeks Intermat poll. This week though Intermat decided to swap Steiert out with another MAC wrestler, Spartak Chino from Ohio. Chino scored a win over Central Michigan’s #9 Luke Smith, so that apparently bumped him up over Steiert. Steiert will either get Virginia Tech’s Jake Spengler, who has lost his last two matches, or #4 Nick Brascetta. Brascetta would be making his way back to the mat after being out of the lineup since VTech wrestled Penn State in November.
A potential rematch from last season at 125 probably won’t happen, as Dylan Peters isn’t expected to wrestle this weekend. The Panther is still healing after an injury to his knee at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas tournament in December. Leighton Gaul has taken his place in the lineup, and will get the number three wrestler in the land in Joey Dance.
At 184 pounds Cody Caldwell will look to keep on the right track after getting his first conference win last week at Northern Illinois. Caldwell will wrestle #14 Zack Zavatsky, who has won three of his last five matches by tech fall.
This will undeniably be a tough dual for the Panthers, as Virginia Tech, at least in my opinion, is still a top ten team. Their loss to Iowa State this past weekend was without three of their best wrestlers, and even then they were one match away from beating ISU again (Virginia Tech won a dual earlier this year 32-3 against ISU). While not everybody will be back for the Hokies, a win for UNI over this VTech team would be huge going into the majority of their conference schedule.