Northern Iowa sits in second place after the first day of the Big 12 Tournament, and they’ve qualified four wrestlers for the NCAA tournament, but their head coach wants to see a little more.
UNI has eight wrestlers still in the Big 12 tournament, with three finalists and five still alive on the backside.
The Panthers were lead by by their number one seeds, and first up was 149 pounder Max Thomsen, who won his semifinal 11-5 over Iowa State’s Jarrett Degen. Thomsen is the first UNI wrestler to ever qualify for the Big 12 tournament finals.
“He’s a great wrestler, he’s got good scrambling, he’s good on top,” Thomsen said after his win. “But for me I just had to focus on quick finishes and getting to his leg.”
Thomsen will have Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen in the finals tomorrow night. The two wrestled in their teams’ dual meet a month ago, with Thomsen coming out on top 3-1 in sudden victory.
“Last time I got it done in overtime, I’d like to get it, finish the match without going into OT this time.”
The other two one seeds had similar matches to each other. Both wrestled Oklahoma State men, and both came out on top. Starting at 174 pounds Taylor Lujan used a big second period takedown and two-point nearfall with 5 seconds remaining to take a 5-3 lead. The Cowboy, Jacobe Smith, would come back strong in the third, scoring a pair of takedowns and nearly getting the win, but Lujan would hold him off and score one of his own for a 10-7 victory.
“He’s a strong SOB, he is an athlete,” Lujan said of Smith. “I need to be more active though, get ready, get shooting.”
Lujan will see South Dakota State’s David Kocer in the final tomorrow night.
Not to be outdone, Drew Foster put on a show in front of the pro-Oklahoma State crowd as well. Foster had a rematch with Keegan Moore, whom he handled pretty well in their last match winning 12-2. Moore looked to change things around in the first period, throwing Foster for a takedown and two nearfall points.
“I’m just trying to get off my back right there,” Foster said of the move. “Get off my back and back in the match.”
Foster used a pair of takedowns in the second – one of which was off a shot by Moore, to build a 8-4 lead and the match was never in doubt again.
UNI only has two wrestlers who are out of the tournament, 133 pounder Jack Wagner and 165 pounder Isaiah Patton. Wagner went 0-2 on the day, while Patton went 1-2.
The Panthers had five other wrestlers reach the consolation semifinals. 125 pounder Jay Schwarm went 1-1 on the frontside before getting a pair of wins on the back. He’ll wrestle Oklahoma’s Christian Moody in a rematch of a dual meeting this season. Schwarm has qualified for the NCAA tournament.
Josh Alber had a hard fought match on the frontside that he dropped to Dean Heil, 2-0 in the semifinals. Alber was used stingy defense to keep Heil away from his ankles, and Alber was in deep on a couple shots but unable to finish. He trailed just 1-0 going to the third period, but could not escape Heil and dropped the match. He’ll wrestle Iowa State’s Ian Parker tomorrow afternoon.
At 157 Logan Ryan was bumped up a seed after Oklahoma State’s Jonce Blaylock dropped out of the tournament. Ryan fell to Chase Straw on the frontside but has come back with two wins on the back to keep his NCAA hopes alive.
Jacob Holschlag dropped his semifinal match with Nate Rotert in sudden victory. Neither man could score a takedown in regulation, but Rotert was awarded a takedown in sudden victory. Holschlag will wrestle Josh Hokit tomorrow in the consolation semifinals.
Carter Isley had a nice backside run, winning by tech fall, 16-1, over Air Force’s Matt Wagner and then a solid 3-0 win over South Dakota State’s Alex Macki. Isley will see Utah Valley’s Dustin Dennison tomorrow afternoon.
The Panthers sit in second place, behind only Oklahoma State, who placed six men in the finals tomorrow afternoon. Both UNI and South Dakota State have three in the finals, but the Panthers have 5 in the wrestlebacks, compared to SDSU’s 4.
*EDIT: there is a chance that Isaiah Patton could wrestle again at 165. There are 6 allocations for the weight, and according to the Big 12 we’re in a wait and see type situation there.
|3||South Dakota State||71.5|
|5||North Dakota State||49.5|