Who: #12 UNI (0-0) vs Cornell (0-0)
Date: Friday, November 17, 2017
Time: 5:30 PM CST
Location: Newman Arena (4,473), Ithaca, NY
TV/Online: Ivy League Network (Subscription)
This weekend marks the opening of Big 12 wrestling for the University of Northern Iowa as North Dakota State comes to Cedar Falls on Sunday. Before that though, the Panthers are traveling across the country for their first regular season dual with the Cornell Big Red in Ithaca.
Cornell returns five starters from last season’s EIWA Championship squad, including an NCAA Qualifier (Ben Honis, 197) and an All-American (Brandon Womack, 165/174). The pair anchor the Big Red lineup, but there are some other men with success this season. Five Cornell wrestlers took home first place honors last weekend at the Binghamton Open. In addition to Womack, Jon Jay Chavez, Michael Russo, Yianni Diakohimalis, and Max Dean all were on top of the podium last weekend.
The Panthers are coming off a fairly successful weekend at the Grand View Open, where they placed eight on top the podium and placed fifteen wrestlers. Jay Schwarm, Josh Alber, Max Thomsen, Paden Moore, Taylor Lujan, Drew Foster and Carter Isley all took home first place in the open division, while Patrick Schoenfelder took first in the freshman/sophomore division.
There are a few questions in UNI’s lineup going into Friday. With Josh Alber bumping up to 141 pounds, that leaves a void at 133. Rudy Yates was expected to fill that void, but at UNI’s media day Doug Schwab said that we wouldn’t see Yates on the mat for a little while as he is dealing with an injury. Jack Wagner was expected to slide in there, but he went out last weekend with a concussion. Depending on his health we might see Chase Lienhard in the lineup.
157 is in the air a little bit too. Paden Moore started out as the starter last season, but with the incoming Logan Ryan coming in and pushing Moore we’ll have to wait and see who will get the start in the dual. The two Panthers were in the finals last weekend at Grand View but did not wrestle, with Moore receiving the medical forfeit victory.
Jacob Holschlag might be out of the lineup at 197 pounds as well. Holschlag was held out of the GV Open last weekend with an injury. Backup Izaak Shedenhelm finished 5th at the GV Open last weekend.
As far as the actual wrestling on Friday night will go there should be a few matches between ranked wrestlers. At 141 #12 Josh Alber should see #20 Yianni Diakomihalis. It should be a good gauge of where Alber currently sits at 141 pounds against good competition. Because the match is so early in the year, dropping it could keep Alber down in the rankings for a while, so this is as much a “must-win” as it can be in November.
The match of the night unquestionably comes at 174 pounds where # 9 Taylor Lujan will take on the returning All-American, #7 Brandon Womack. Womack finished 8th at the NCAA tournament last season at 165 pounds. If Lujan wants to make that push into the top-tier of 174 pounds (not that he’s not already there) he needs to come out on top of this match.
The last match featuring two ranked wrestlers should come at 184 pounds, where UNI’s #4 Drew Foster will face Cornell’s #17 Max Dean. Foster’s story is so well known from the last two year’s I won’t get into it here, but if he wants to continue to roll in the top five of 184, he’ll need to come away with the win here. Everybody knows who Drew Foster is now, and he’ll have a bit of a target on him going into opponent’s gyms. This will be the first season where he will have to handle expectations from the outside. He’ll also be looking to bounce back from a 5-2 loss against #3 Pete Renda at the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Overall UNI should win this dual. Even with the question marks at 133, 157, and 197. With a bit of a question mark at 165 in Isaiah Patton, who has yet to wrestle this year, Cornell could make this a very interesting dual with just one or two upsets, but if UNI is going to take the next step as a team this year, this is an early-season dual that they are expected, and should, win.
#12 UNI Panthers
125 – #20 Jay Schwarm
133 – Jack Wagner or Chase Lienhard
141 – #12 Josh Alber
149 – #3 Max Thomsen
157 – Paden Moore or Logan Ryan
165 – Isaiah Patton
174 – #9 Taylor Lujan
184 – #4 Drew Foster
197 – Jacob Holschlag or Izaak Shedenhelm
285 – Carter Isley
Cornell Big Red
125 – Mike Russo
133 – Chaz Tucker
141 – #20 Yianni Diakomihalis
149 – Jonathan Furnas
157 – Joseph Galasso
165 – Jonathon Chavez
174 – #7 Brandon Womack
184 – #17 Max Dean
197 – Benjamin Honis
285 – Jeramy Sweany