Also Previewed: 125 – 133
|141||Starter||In Contention||Keep your eye on|
|FR||Triston Lara – Redshirt
||Derek Holschlag – Redshirt|
|JR||Josh Alber||Jake Koethe|
As we move to 141 pounds we come across the final wrestler that will impact the lineup as a result of the lineup change that head coach Doug Schwab talked to IAwrestle about earlier this summer. A two-time NCAA qualifier, junior Josh Alber has been constant presence in the Panther lineup and toward the end of his sophomore campaign he looked to be putting together some of his best wrestling of his career.
According to his head coach, the move to 141 should see some big dividends for Alber, who will no longer need to worry about his weight cut and his full focus can be on getting better and performing. Alber was a big time recruit out of the state of Illinois, being an undefeated four-time state champion. In his two years starting at 133 pounds Alber showed flashes of realizing that talent that made him a top 25 recruit, but he’s lacked the consistency to establish himself among the best at his weight. Now a veteran, we will see if Alber is ready to put it all together to make a run in a Big 12 conference that features two NCAA finalists (including two-time champion Dean Heil of Oklahoma State) and one of the nation’s most promising incoming freshmen Kanen Storr of Iowa State.
Before Alber takes the mat as the starter he will be battle tested, as the room already features two wrestlers with starting experience at 141 pounds returning for this coming season. Senior Jake Hodges has competed in two postseasons for the Panthers, and junior Jake Koethe has made a number of starts in his career as well. Hodges was 10-12 last year, but his noted wins included a 4-2 decision over Missouri’s Matt Manley (a two-time NCAA qualifier) and 6-0 decision over former Midlands finalist Emilio Saavedra (then of Old Dominion now at Fresno State). Injuries have held Koethe back, though he has several notable wins over Northern Illinois’ Steve Bleise, Rutgers’ Anthony Abidin, and Iowa’s Vince Turk.
In 2017 Schwab put together a lite recruiting class, but in that class included two potential options for the future at 141 pounds. The biggest name is Fort Dodge prep Triston Lara, who was a two-time state champion and considered among the best seniors in last year’s class. The other name brought in was Union prep Derek Holschlag, younger brother to Jacob who was a NCAA qualifier at 197 pounds for the Panthers last season. Both would benefit from a redshirt season, and both have the potential to be starters in the future.
|149||Starter||Backup||Keep your eye on|
|FR||Keaton Geerts – Redshirt|
|SO||Max Thomsen||Hunter Washburn|
Looking back on last year’s squad everyone knew that Max Thomsen had the most potential in the Panther lineup and despite heavy expectations Thomsen delivered on the hype by earning All-American honors as a freshman. It wasn’t the least bit surprising that Thomsen found himself wrestling in the NCAA semifinals. If anything some were left wondering what might have been if Thomsen had managed to defeat Missouri’s Lavion Mayes in the semifinals, just as he had several weeks earlier in the season when the two met in Columbia, Missouri during a MAC conference dual.
We could go on about what a fantastic freshman year it was for Thomsen, but instead we will look forward to his sophomore year where he enters as the favorite to win the Big 12 conference at 149 pounds (Oklahoma State’s Geo Martinez and Oklahoma’s Davion Jeffries will start the year looking to change that) and he is the most likely Panther to finish the season on the podium. The Panthers have several other All-American threats in the lineup, but none are more polished than Thomsen.
The top backup will be former Alburnett standout, Hunter Washburn, who like Thomsen is entering his sophomore season. Washburn brings a 14-14 record over two seasons at UNI (including his redshirt year).
The other name worth watching will be New Hampton’s Keaton Geerts, who was the only top 100 recruit in UNI’s 2017 recruiting class. When he was recruited Geerts looked as though he may start at 141 pounds with the likely scenario he would grow into 149 pounds at some point in his career. There have been some rumblings that day may have already come, and given Lara and Holschlag’s presence at 141, a move to 149 would be ideal to spread talent across two weights as opposed to one. Geerts is a hard nosed wrestler who can grind with the best of them, but he can pull it back and scramble too. As an example of his toughness Geerts wrestled through the state tournament (and beat a top 20 opponent at the War at West Gym) on a torn ACL, but never said a word until well after the fact when he found he needed surgery.
Even if Geerts does manage to go 141 this season, with Alber-Koethe-Hodges all veterans battling at 141 and Thomsen cemented at 149, a redshirt would do Geerts some good to sit back and spend a season learning and adjusting to Division I.