I don’t know if anybody remembers this song, but Two out of Three Ain’t Bad.
The Northern Iowa Panthers, in their first Big 12 Championship wrestling tournament, took home second place overall and crowned two champions out of three finalists.
That’s not so bad, and even Doug Schwab admitted to some good things.
“Good event, we got to raise the level of our wrestling,” he said after the tournament. “There were a lot of good matches, a lot of high level matches, that’s what we want. So when we get to the national tournament it’s not really a surprise.
Glad we came to the Big 12’s and looking forward to the many years to come. But everything really turns towards nationals now.”
Schwab and Co. saw 174 pounder Taylor Lujan become the schools first Big 12 conference champion. Drew Foster came right behind him at 184 pounds to earn the second.
“He did a good job, he got on top and rode him out the rest of the first period,” Schwab said. He went and got to some attacks, he really kept good composure.”
“I’m real comfortable when guys are on my legs, maybe a little too comfortable,” Lujan said afterwards. “I wish I would have shot more, but it is what it is.”
Lujan gave up the first points of the match against South Dakota State’s David Kocer when he was called for a neutral nearfall, giving up two. But he got a takedown and rideout, so things were even again to start the second. He scored another takedown in the third to salt away a 6-3 victory.
“I know I need to work on more, these are all tough guys,” Lujan said. “I know I need to work on my offense and head position, being disciplined in my stance and the pace of the whole match.
Drew Foster came right on Lujan’s heels in the 184 pound match, scoring a 5-1 win over Northern Colorado’s Dylan Gabel. Foster struck first with a takedown and rideout and never looked back.
“It’s awesome. It’s nice to follow up Lou (Taylor Lujan),” Foster said after the match. “We’re here to stay, we’re trying to make some news. We’re ready for nationals now.”
“I just want to climb the podium, just want to get better. The end goal is a national title.”
UNI’s lone blemish in the finals was their first opportunity. 149 pounder Max Thomsen came up short in a rematch against Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen. Thomsen won their dual meet match a few weeks ago 3-1 in sudden victory, but was unable to get to many attacks Sunday night.
“He beat us up on collar tie. They really made sure to keep his left hand very active,” Schwab said of Thomsen’s match. “We’ve got to be able to make a match adjustment, and be able to recognize some of that sooner.”
Lewallen won the match, 9-3.
Overall UNI had a good tournament, they pushed through six men total to the NCAA championships in Cleveland, and outpaced everybody not named Oklahoma State in the team standings. Oklahoma State scored 137 to set the pace, UNI had 96.5, SDSU came up third with 94, and Wyoming rounded out the top four with 82.5 points.
The Panthers had a pretty good session III Sunday afternoon, getting three men through to the NCAA Championships in two weeks.
They were led by 141 pounder Josh Alber, who took home 3rd. Alber defeated Iowa State’s Ian Parker in the consolation semifinal, 3-2, and then beat Henry Pohlmeyer from South Dakota State 5-3 to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
UNI had a pair of 4th place finishers in Jay Schwarm at 125 pounds and Jacob Holschlag at 197. Schwarm avenged a pair of losses to Oklahoma’s Christian Moody, knocking him off in a 10-8 match. Schwarm would lose to Utah Valley’s Taylor LaMont 6-4 in the third place match. This will be Schwarms first year qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
Holschlag won his consolation semifinal 1-0 over Fresno State’s Josh Hokit. He would lose again to Preston Weigel in the third place match, 8-4, despite some good scrambles.
Another pair of Panthers fell to their respective 5th place matches. At 157 pounds Logan Ryan earned 5th place by defeating Air Force’s Alex Massing. Ryan fell in the consolation semifinal match against South Dakota State’s Luke Zilverberg.
Carter Isley dropped both his matches this afternoon, earning 6th place. He lost 8-4 to Dustin Dennison in the consolation semifinal and by fall in TB1 to North Dakota State’s Dan Stibral.
Isaiah Patton won his 7th place match against Iowa State’s Skyler St. John to force a true 6th place battle. Utah Valley’s Demetrius Romero would win that though, 6-2, to earn the final NCAA allocation spot at 165 pounds.
Now it’s on to the NCAA tournament in Cleveland in two weeks. But first we’ll have a little event called War at West Gym, where we’ll put some of the best high school wrestlers in the home of the Panthers next Saturday night. Come out and see all the action before heading east.