#17 UNI Panthers 2-0
125- #2 Dylan Peters or Jay Schwarm
133- #14 Josh Alber
141- Jake Hodges or Jake Koethe
149- #14 Max Thomsen
157- #12 Bryce Steiert
165- Isaiah Patton or Paden Moore
174- Taylor Lujan
184- Jacob Holschlag or Drew Foster
197- Jared Bartel
285- JJ Everard
#5 Virginia Tech Hokies 3-0
125- #3 Joey Dance
133- Dom Latona
141- Dennis Gustafson
149- #6 Solomon Chishko
157- #16 Sal Mastriani or Ryan Blees
165- Mike Ciavarro
174- #2 Zach Epperly
184- #10 Zach Zavatsky
197- #3 Jared Haught
285- #3 Ty Walz
After racking up their first two home wins in over a year and half, the Panther Train will try to keep rolling as they welcome #5 Virginia Tech to the West Gym. It’s the third year in row the Panther and Hokies have matched up, with Virginia Tech taking the previous two duals.
The two biggest questions that the Panthers have are at 125 and 165 pounds. By this time, everybody knows about Dylan Peters – he tore his ACL in December of last year, but still managed to earn All-American status. He’s been rehabbing the knee since the end of last season and has yet to wrestle a match this year, so Panther fans are anxious to see if he’ll take the mat this Friday.
“We’ll see,” was Schwab’s response at Monday’s press conference. “He’s getting closer and closer, the thing is, you love and you want a guy who wants to be out there. He knows his body better than I do, I can’t tell him how he feels, and he feels pretty good.”
The other question is a familiar one at 165 pounds. Cooper Moore is out with another injury to his right arm, which leaves a void for the Panthers at the middle weight. Isaiah Patton and Moore’s younger brother Paden split the duty last week and Schwab implied that the two might split time moving forward.
“Sometimes it might depend on style too, and who you’re competing against, and how all those things match up,” Schwab said of his two starters. Schwab also mention junior transer Brody Beck from Coe College. “Beck had a really good tournament, he wrestled well. He got fourth at Herold Nichols yesterday, competed really hard. But between those guys we’ll have someone going out and ready to compete and ready to get their hand raised in that match.”
Whoever takes the mat for UNI at 165 needs to be ready. That’s one of the few weights where Virginia Tech does not boast a ranked wrestler, and if the Panthers want to pull off the upset they’ll need points on the board here.
There’s two more weights that will feature top-20 wrestlers. The first will come at 149 pounds, where #14 Max Thomsen will take on #6 Solomon Chishko. This is Thomsen’s first big test at the varsity level this season, although he did wrestle three top-20 wrestlers last year (Geordan Martinez, Jason Tsirtsis, and Ken Theobold). He’ll look to turn those results around though against the sophomore All-American.
Chishko dropped only three matches in the regular season last year, and finished 6th at the NCAA Championships, but that was at 141 pounds. The Hokie is 3-0 this season and he already has a win over #15 Patricio Lugo from Edinboro. Chishko won that match in sudden victory, 7-5, so there is definitely room for Thomsen to exploit him a bit, especially in front of the home crowd.
At 157 we’ll have our last match of the night between two ranked wrestlers, as #12 Bryce Steiert takes on #16 Sal Mastriani. The two did not wrestle last year, as Mastriani was at 149 pounds, but again this will be a good early-season test for Steiert. Mastriani did not qualify for the NCAA’s last season, whereas Steiert was the first freshman to do so at UNI since 2003. Again it will be interesting to see how the Hokie does against a quality opponent a weight higher than last season. This will be the last match of the night where the Panther will be favored.
The lower weights that I skipped, 133 and 141 pounds, should both favor the Panthers. #14 Josh Alber comes in with an 8-1 record on the year already, with all eight wins by bonus points. If Jake Hodges gets the nod at 141 pounds look for him to keep a six-match win streak alive, as he took home a pair of victories last Friday night.
The upper weights will all be uphill battles for the Panthers, as Virginia Tech’s lowest ranked wrestler there is at 184, where Zach Zavatsky is ranked 10th. 174, 197, and heavyweight are all ranked in the top three. While UNI has had some growth at those weights there hasn’t been near enough to upswing to keep the VTech heavy-hitters at bay.
174 and 184 are perhaps the most interesting of those four battles, where two underclassmen will take the mat for UNI. 174 will feature Taylor Lujan, who won the Grand View open earlier this month and has secured his spot at the weight. Fans are expecting big things out of him, and a big upset of the #2 wrestler in the country might just blow the roof off the West Gym.
184 provides either Jacob Holschlag or Drew Foster with the chance to get a big upset win for the Panthers. Both men wrestled, and were unbeaten, last Friday. Holschlag at this weight against UNK and Foster at both 184 and 197 in the two duals. If I had to guess I’d say that Foster would get the nod, as he was a bit more dominate in his two matches than Holschlag was. Of note, these two did wrestle at the dual last year, with Zavatsky walking away with a 13-2 major decision.
Overall, this is going to be a very tough dual for UNI to win. The seven ranked wrestlers that Virginia Tech brings in might just be too much for the Panthers to handle, especially if the Hokies can quiet the home crowd quickly with a couple of upsets of their own. The last time Keven Dresser brought his squad into the West Gym he walked away with a 20-12 win, and you can bet Schwab and company didn’t like the way that one finished.
The dual Friday can be found on FloWrestling, for a fee, and live stats will be up at TrackWrestling, both links are at the top of the page. WrestleStat has predicted a 25-8 win for Virginia Tech.
Edit: After this was published, UNI put out a release on who will wrestle Friday. Dylan Peters is the only 125 pounder listed, so look for his return to the West Gym Friday night. They also have Paden Moore listed as a possibility at 157 pounds.
Second Edit: Apparently leaving Schwarm off the UNI release was an error. He’s on the list now and so we 125 is back up in the air for the Panthers