Date: December 11th, 2016
Location: UW Field House, Madison, WI
Video: BTN Plus
#17 UNI Panthers 3-1 (1-0 MAC)
125- #3 Dylan Peters or Jay Schwarm
133- #16 Josh Alber
141- Jake Hodges or Jake Koethe
149- #13 Max Thomsen
157- Paden Moore
165- #9 Bryce Steiert
174- #12 Taylor Lujan
184- #13 Drew Foster or Jacob Holschlag
197- Jared Bartel
285- JJ Everard
#11 Wisconsin 1-0 (0-0 Big Ten)
125- Jens Lantz
133- Eli Stickley
141- #21 Cole Martin
149- #18 Andrew Crone
157- Jared Scharenbrock
165- #3 Issac Jordan
174- #20 Ryan Christensen
184- Hunter Ritter
197- #16 Ricky Robertson
285- #2 Connor Medbery
The Northern Iowa Panthers are taking their talents on the road for the first time this season as they head to Madison for a dual with the Badgers. Wisconsin is just 1-0 on the young season, while the Panthers are 3-1. These two squads aren’t exactly strangers, as they last met up in 2013-14 season, with the Panthers taking the dual in the West Gym 29-9.
The Badgers are coming off a runner-up finish at the Cliff Keen Invitational Tournament in Las Vegas. Wisconsin had seven men place, the most out of any squad, including Connor Medbery taking home the championship at 285 pounds.
This year’s matchup will see 12 total ranked wrestlers take the mat. The match of the night looks to be UNI’s 9th ranked Bryce Steiert up against Wisconsin’s #3 Issac Jordan. This is Steiert’s first opportunity against the weight’s best, as he did not pass a skin check before the UNI Open last Saturday. The field at the Open saw #1 Isaiah Martinez and (at the time) #3 Daniel Lewis. Jordan was the national runner-up last season at this weight, but has already lost this season to Michigan wrestler Logan Massa at the Cliff Keen Invite.
There are two questions that will determine whether or not UNI can pull off the upset in Madison. The first is bonus points. Can the Panthers put up enough offense away from home to secure wins by at least eight points? Peters, Alber, and Foster are all favorites, if not heavy favorites, and they’ll all need to get big wins to help their team.
The second question is can the Panthers not only win the matches they’re “supposed” to win, but the 50/50 matches too? This was a big reason UNI lost so many duals last season – too many unranked wrestlers were dropping matches to other unranked wrestlers. Matches like Paden Moore vs Jared Scharenbrock. Both of those wrestlers are mostly unheralded, but 3 points one way or the other can be big for a team, and a win for Moore would be a big confidence boost going into the rest of the season.
Other matchups that include two ranked wrestlers are at 149 pounds, where UNI’s #13 Max Thomsen will take on Wisconsin’s #18 Andrew Crone. This will be the first big test for Thomsen away from the West Gym in his Panther career, and like Moore a win here would be a big boost of confidence going forward.
174 pounds will give fans the last opportunity for a match between two top 20 ranked wresters, as #12 Taylor Lujan will take on #20 Ryan Christensen. Lujan has undoubtedly been the biggest surprise for UNI this season, earning MAC Wrestler of the Week honors for defeating then-number-eight Zach Brunson from Illinois. Lujan’s only loss on the year was to #2 Zach Epperly, but again he hasn’t had a real test away from home.
Overall I think this is a dual that the Panthers can win. Bonus points will be at a premium for both squads, as I have the dual coming down to a tie at 16 when all is said and done. If either team can pull an upset or win a close match, that could also swing the dual their way. We’ll have live coverage from Madison during the dual, so if you can’t watch it be sure to stop by for our play by play thread that will go live an hour before the dual!
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