Date: February 5th, 2017
Time: 12 PM
Location: McLeod Center, Cedar Falls, IA
TV: Time Warner Cable SportsChannel Kansas City, WHO 13, KGCW 26, KCRG-TV ABC Channel 9, CFU Cable TV Channel 15, Comcast Chicago Sports Net and Comcast Chicago Sports Net Plus.
#23 UNI Panthers 9-2 (6-0 MAC)
125- #11 Dylan Peters or Jay Schwarm
133- #11 Josh Alber
141- Tyler Willers
149- #8 Max Thomsen
157- Paden Moore
165- #9 Bryce Steiert
174- #13 Taylor Lujan
184- #14 Drew Foster
197- Jacob Holschlag
285- JJ Everard
Oklahoma 8-4 (4-0 Big 12)
125- #25 Christian Moody
133- Trae Blackwell
141- Mike Longo
149- #16 Davion Jefferies
157- #10 Clark Glass
165- #20 Yoanse Mejias
174- #23 Matt Reed
184- Andrew Dixon
197- #19 Brand Johnson
285- #16 Ross Larson
The University of Northern Iowa wrestling squad returns home, well, not quite home, for the first time in two weeks. The Panthers will wrestle in the McLeod Center for the first time since 2008, and the first time this season against the Oklahoma Sooners. The Panthers moved out of the McLeod to wrestle in the West Gym full time during the 2008-09 season.
The Sooners come in at 8-4 overall and undefeated in Big 12 wrestling. This is the second weekend in a row that Oklahoma will be making a trip north; they defeated Iowa State 30-12 and Northern Colorado 35-6 last weekend. First year head coach Lou Rosselli has been building his squad up all season and they seem to be getting better the closer they get to March.
UNI comes back to Cedar Falls after having gone 2-0 in the state of Ohio this past weekend, first defeating Ohio University 27-16, and then Kent State 31-16. The Panthers racked up a total of five falls, two from both Max Thomsen and Bryce Steiert.
“Anytime you go on the road, you can dread being on the road or you can look forward to it,” UNI Head Coach Doug Schwab said at his weekly press conference. “The thing that I liked this week was we got bonus points. Being able to be on the road and win a couple meets, [it’s] good for our team.”
The dual features nine matches with at least one top 25 ranked wrestler, and up to four matches between ranked men. And while all of those will be important for both squads, the 149 and 165 pound battles should be great. #8 Max Thomsen for the Panthers will take on #16 Davion Jefferies. Both men are in their second year at their respective schools, and while Thomsen has a better record this season (23-3 vs 14-10) Jefferies didn’t redshirt last season, exposing him to some of the nations top talent and perhaps giving him an edge in terms of experience.
At 165 #9 Bryce Steiert and #20 Yoanse Mejias will clash for the first time in their careers. In fact this is the first time that any of the starters in the projected lineup will wrestle each other) Mejias was ranked a little bit higher, #17, last week before falling to Northern Colorado’s Keilan Torres 10-5. Steiert has only one dual loss on the year, a 7-5 decision to the number two ranked Issac Jordan at Wisconsin earlier this year. Mejias hasn’t wrestled a whole lot, he’s just 8-3 on the year, but he’ll be looking to get back on the winning track after last weeks upset loss.
Bonus points in matches where the Panthers are favored could be the key to winning. At 133 Josh Alber goes up against unranked Trae Blackwell and Drew Foster will take on Andrew Dixon at 184. Both of these matches have big potential for bonus points, and the Panther Train will really need them to help secure a win in McLeod.
Besides the big matches there are a couple big questions for the Panthers. The first is the health of their heavyweight, JJ Everard. Everard was forced out of his match against Ohio’s Zack Parker after planting his leg awkwardly while trying to ride Parker. Everard had been wrestling well as of late; he was 4-0 in his last four matches including defeating then #17 Gage Hutchison of Eastern Michigan and Iowa State’s Quean Smith, who was ranked in the first NCAA poll.
Everard had an MRI of his knee done earlier this week, but IAwrestle has not heard anything about the results of the scan. Everard was listed on the release that UNI put out on Thursday. If Everard cannot go at heavyweight, the Panthers are left with nearly no options at 285. He is the only true heavyweight on the roster that’s not redshirting this season, so the Panthers would be forced to forfeit the weight or bump someone up and I’m not sure if that’s a viable option.
The second question that UNI will need to answer is when will Dylan Peters return to the lineup. Coach Schwab was asked about him earlier this week.
“We’ll see this week, where he’s at. It’s really up to him and how he feels physically. He’s making progress, he’s getting closer. If Peters isn’t ready [Jay] Schwarm will be ready to go and scrap, and he’ll definitely get you excited and on your feet, I can guarantee you that.”
“Anytime a team like Oklahoma comes to town, we need to greet them warmly, loudly, and rowdy. Oklahoma’s been wrestling well. It should be, obviously, an exciting event.”
UNI is running a promotion where season ticket holders of any other sport can get in for just $3. We’ll have live coverage from the McLeod Center on Sunday so if you can’t make it follow us on Twitter (@IAwrestle, @Nic_Ryder) and check back on Sunday for updates on the dual!