Their is an entrance to the floor of Missouri’s Hearnes Center with big, cat-like eyes. That’s where UNI’s squad came out of, wrestling for the MAC regular season title away from home. Missouri’s mascot is the Tigers, after all, and they probably think they resemble that sort of cat.
On Sunday afternoon, the cat may have changed coats to black.
The #24-ranked University of Northern Iowa took down #7 Missouri in the Hearnes Center, 25-10 on Sunday. The Panthers won seven of the ten bouts, getting two upset wins, one by fall along the way. The Panthers scored bonus points in just two matches, but that was that was enough.
“We wrestled really disciplined. Sometimes discipline can almost be boring,” UNI Head Coach Doug Schwab said after the win.
There were a couple questions coming into the dual. The first was how would they respond after a closer-than-expected dual on Friday against Buffalo? That answer showed early on, as the first three matches all went UNI’s way. With the first being at heavyweight and senior Jared Bartel.
“In January, really, his career is done. [He’s] real beat up, but then he steps up and wins a match. That’s huge and really kind of got the momentum going.”
Bartel’s win was big, but it wasn’t the biggest. That honor is split between Max Thomsen and Bryce Steiert. Both were wrestling against men they’d lost to previously, and both came up with big wins over top-6 guys. The two are roommates and Steiert put it to Thomsen earlier this week.
“He (Steiert) said I’m going to beat (Missouri’s 165 pounder) Daniel Lewis. And when he said that it just sparked something in me. I’m like, you know what, I’m going to beat Lavion Mayes.”
The duo did just what they’d set out to do. Thomsen worked a 1-0 lead to the third period, before hitting a tilt on the edge to go up 3-0. Another takedown later secured the win for the Panther. Thomsen did a great job of keeping Mayes’ double leg attack at bay, and then taking smart shots in the third period.
Steiert did not have nearly as much time to score points as Thomsen did. Steiert came out and did a good job getting to his attacks early, but it wasn’t until Lewis scored a takedown that Steiert was able to take advantage.
“The thing I like, Steiert was attacking him, and he was in multiple time. He kept wrestling, that’s the biggest thing to me,” Scwhwab said. “The other guy was on top but he kept wrestling through it.”
Steiert had locked up a cradle and scored a four-point nearfall, but that wasn’t enough, as they rolled back over Steiert worked on Lewis’ leg and scored the pinfall win in 2:23.
“That was huge for him. He told me a couple weeks ago ‘I’m going to beat this guy here.'” Scwhab said. “And you can kind of see that build in him that he’s one of the top guys in the country at 165.”
Jay Schwarm was in the lineup again for UNI, and he wrestled a “boring match.” Schwarm didn’t tie up with Missouri’s #25 Barlow McGhee. He stayed away from the Tiger and then put a saddle on him in the second period, drawing a stall warning and then another when they were neutral.
“We told Schwarm, you’ve got to wrestle a boring match. At the Scuffle we told him, ‘you’ve got to wrestle a boring match,” and he came off the mat saying, ‘I can’t wrestle a boring match!'” Schwab said of his lightweight. “We love that, but right now this is going to give you the best opportunity.”
It’s a good thing Schwarm listened, as he turned a 13-5 major decision loss into a 5-1 victory.
At this point UNI’s favored wrestlers, #13 Taylor Lujan and #14 Drew Foster, almost seemed like afterthoughts. Lujan came out and did a great job defending against #24 Dylan Wisman. Wisman was able to get to Lujan’s legs repeatedly, but Lujan fought him off every time to get the 14-3 major decision win.
Foster performed great as well, building up 3:30 of riding time in match to win 6-3. The Panther found his saddle and threw it on Matthew Lemanowicz’s back, dominating him on the mat and taking home a 6-3 win.
Jake Hodges and Payden Moore both good matches even in defeat. Hodges went down 8-4 to #9 Jaydin Eierman and Moore lost 8-3 to #5 Joey Lavallee.
J’den Cox went out and, like the Olympic Bronze Medalist and two-time defending national chamipion does, won by tech fall over Jake Holschlag 18-1. Holschlag looked positively tiny compared to Cox, but didn’t back down when it was his choice in the second period, choosing to ride the Olympian. Ultimately it was just another point for Cox though.
The win secured UNI’s first MAC Dual Championship since 2014, and their second in the Mid-American Conference.
“Feels great, just all the work that we’ve put in as a team and the support from the Panther fans. Just feels great,” Thomsen said afterwards.
The team posed for pictures afterwards on the mat with the MAC Championship Trophy, but Schwab emphasized the next section of their season.
“We’ve got some time to get our team as healthy as we can. This time of year there’s dings, there’s things that happen but you have to go with it,” Schwab said.
“We’ve got three weeks until the MAC and really want to put a fine edge on our guys and get them really ready to wrestle. I think everyone is going to leave feeling pretty good about where we’re at.”
UNI will have the next couple of weeks off, but we’ll have previews ready to go for the MAC tournament when that comes around, and hopefully a lot of you can make it to the McLeod Center in a few weeks!
UNI 25, Missouri 10
285 – Jared Bartel (Northern Iowa) over Austin Myers (Missouri) (Dec 4-3)
125 – Jacob Schwarm (Northern Iowa) over Barlow McGhee (Missouri) (Dec 5-1)
133 – Josh Alber (Northern Iowa) over John Erneste (Missouri) (Dec 5-3)
141 – Jaydin Eierman (Missouri) over Jake Hodges (Northern Iowa) (Dec 8-4)
149 – Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) over Lavion Mayes (Missouri) (Dec 9-2)
157 – Joey Lavallee (Missouri) over Paden Moore (Northern Iowa) (Dec 8-3)*
165 – Bryce Steiert (Northern Iowa) over Daniel Lewis (Missouri) (Fall 2:23)
174 – Taylor Lujan (Northern Iowa) over Dylan Wisman (Missouri) (MD 14-3)
184 – Drew Foster (Northern Iowa) over Matthew Lemanowicz (Missouri) (Dec 6-3)
197 – J`den Cox (Missouri) over Jacob Holschlag (Northern Iowa) (TF 18-1 6:03)
* – Mizzou deducted a team point during the match after second team warning