Panthers, Cyclones visit Tulsa for Big 12 Championship

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Who:
 #19 UNI, #22 Iowa State
What: The Big 12 Conference Tournament
Where: Bok Center, Tulsa, Oklahoma
When: Saturday and Sunday, March 9-10, 2019, full schedule below
Watch: FloWrestling ($)
Brackets: Link

Once again (and until 2024) the Big 12 Conference will host it’s annual wrestling tournament at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It will be interesting to see if anybody can knock off Oklahoma State in their quest to win their seventh consecutive championship (spoiler alert, probably not) as the Cowboys bring back four previous Big 12 Champs in Nic Piccininni, Joe Smith, Preston Weigel, and Derek White.

The 2018 runner-up UNI Panthers return two Big 12 Champions in Taylor Lujan and Drew Foster, and one runner-up in Max Thomsen. UNI helped the conference by qualifying five weights (141, 149, 165, 174, and 184), but the third seed Jay Schwarm and the sixth seed Carter Isley will have to steal a spot if they want to wrestle in Pittsburgh.

Speaking of the Cyclones (did I even mention them?), they aided the conference by qualify eight spots (all except 157 and 165) and have seven wrestlers pre-seeded third or higher. Led by Sam Colbray at 184 pounds earning the one seed and Austin Gomez, Ian Parker, and Willie Miklus each earning a two seed. I could see a couple of their seeds changing after today, but we’ll have to wait until after the seeding meeting to find out.

As far as seeded UNI wrestlers go everything seems about right. Josh Alber leads the way with the 1 seed at 141 pounds and will match up against the winner of Kaid Brock and Matt Findlay. Brock was kicked up to the five seed even though he has a head-to-head loss with the sixth seeded Sam Turner from Wyoming this season. Given that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brock flip to Parker’s side of the bracket, but they wouldn’t be scheduled to meet until the semifinals anyway.

As it sits now, Alber will have a tough semifinal match no matter who advances. Findlay hasn’t wrestled a ton in the last month or so due to injury, so if he is able to knock Brock out he’ll have two really tough matches in a row. Alber’s 15-match winning streak will be on the line this weekend and he’s the favorite to be the third Big 12 Champion in UNI history.

Max Thomsen secured the second seed at 149 pounds with his dual meet win over Jarrett Degen two weeks ago. Degen is the third seed so we have our first UNI/ISU semifinal scheduled. Thomsen came out on top two weeks ago, 7-5, but you can bet that Degen and the ISU staff have made adjustments.

The winner will probably get the top seeded Kaden Gfeller, who Thomsen lost to in sudden victory in their dual meet match at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Gfeller and Degen have not wrestled in their careers. Thomsen made the finals of the conference tournament last year and you can bet that runner-up finish is motivating for him.

At 165 Brice Steiert has a solid draw but will probably have to face a wrestler he hasn’t wrestled this season in the first round in Isaiah Hokit from Fresno State. Barring an upset there he’ll get UVU’s Demetrius Romero, who Steiert lost to in their dual meet match last month. Although Romero is a solid wrestler I don’t see Steiert dropping another match to him; I really think that he and Lujan (against UVU’s Kimball Bastian) were greatly effected by the altitude in Utah as both men seemed gassed in the middle of their matches.

If it goes the Steiert’s way in the semifinal, he’ll probably get Branson Ashworth from Wyoming in the finals. A two-time NCAA qualifier, Ashworth is 31-3 on the year and scores bonus points in half of his matches.

At 174 pounds Taylor Lujan will see the previously mentioned Bastian in the semifinals if things hold to seed. The defending 174 pound Big 12 Champion fell to the third seed after losing to Bastian. Jacobe Smith, who defeated Lujan in the bloodround of last seasons NCAA Tournament, but who fell to Lujan in the semifinal of the Big 12 Tournament, earned the number one seed after having wrestled at 184 pounds the second half of the season. Iowa State’s Marcus Coleman is the fourth seed and would probably see Wyoming’s Hayden Hastings in the first round with Smith in the semifinal with a win. That’s a tough hill for him to climb.

Again, I feel like Lujan will make it back to the finals. The test will in the semifinal will be to see if he can make adjustments to secure takedowns quicker against Bastian. In their previous match Lujan took a little too long to score with his I’ll-outfunk-you style and it cost him. The rubber match with Smith for the Big 12 title might be the premiere match of the finals come Sunday night.

The only weight where a UNI-Iowa State final seems likely is at 184 pounds where the Cyclones’ Sam Colbray earned the one seed after defeating the second seeded Drew Foster 8-5 in their dual meet match two weeks ago in the West Gym. Oklahoma State’s Dakota Geer will be the biggest factor in if Foster makes the finals, as the Cowboys weight changes have put him back down at 184 for the postseason after having wrestled the back half of the regular season at 197. Geer had a good season at the upper weight, but didn’t really have a signature win, so (of course) I’d give the nod to Foster.

The rubber match between Foster and Colbray would have bigger stakes than ever as the two would wrestle for a Big 12 Championship. Foster was unable to get to Colbray’s legs in their second match, as the Cyclone blocked off well and used his own shots to get the upset win. The rankings in general at 184 are razor thin, and after 174 this is the weight I’m most interested in seeing.

Willie Miklus is in his 98th season of wrestling in college, and after having moved back to Iowa to be closer to his family had a solid season as Iowa State’s 197 pounder. Miklus is the second seed and will have to avenge a loss to Josh Hokit in the semifinal to move on to his first Big 12 Championship. Hokit won in sudden victory against Miklus back in January, 4-2, in the Iowa State-Fresno State dual meet. And although he hasn’t wrestled Anthony McLaughlin (first round opponent) or Jacob Seely (second round opponent) I can’t imagine he’ll have much trouble getting through to Saturday night.

Heavyweight drew up very interesting for both UNI and Iowa State, as Carter Isley and Gannon Gremmel are set to take on each other in the second round. Isley probably would have qualified a spot for the Big 12 if he was healthy all year (he was out for most of the season after suffering a knee injury at the UNI Open) but as it is the conference only has 6 allocations here, so he’ll have to steal one.

Anyway the potential Isley/Gremmel match is big because the loser would have to win at least three more matches on the backside to qualify, while the winner would potentially only have to win one. Isley has looked like the wrestler everybody expected him to look like this season since coming back: he’s bigger, quick on his feet, and can be explosive. Oh, and he can ride other heavyweights now too. If Gremmel has made adjustments since their last match then Isley will have to adjust in-match on Saturday night, but either way it should be a good match.

It seems as though second place in the team race will come down to the wire again, but this time between UNI and Iowa State. ISU has a couple more wrestlers seeded higher, but the Panthers have had some very good tournaments this season, scoring a lot of bonus points to push their scores higher. Either way, a second-place race between the two state schools can’t be a bad thing and it’ll be interesting to see how close either of them can get to catching Oklahoma State.

We’ll have photo extraordinaire Cam Kramer down in Tulsa this weekend and we’ll have updates throughout the weekend both here and on our Twitter.

125 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 5 – Nick Piccininni (OSU), Brent Fleetwood (NDSU), Cole Verner (WYO), Alex Mackall (ISU), Rico Montoya (UNC)

Pre-seeds:
1. Nick Piccininni (OSU)
2. Brett Fleetwood (NDSU)
3. Jay Schwarm (UNI)
4. Rico Montoya (UNC)
5. Alex Mackall (ISU)
6. Cole Verner (WYO)
7. Christian Moody (OU)
8. Sidney Flores (AF)
9. Mitch Brown (UVU)
10. Devin Brown (WVU)
11. Robert Garcia (FSU)
12. Gregory Coapstick (SDSU)

133 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 5 – Daton Fix (OSU), Austin Gomez (ISU), Montorie Bridges (WYO), Cam Sykora (NDSU), Matthew Schmitt (WVU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Dayton Fix (OSU)
2. Austin Gomez (ISU)
3. Montorie Bridges (WYO)
4. Matt Schmitt (WVU)
5. Cam Sykora (NDSU)
6. Anthony Madrigal (OU)
7. John Twomey (AF)
8. Gary joing (FSU)
9. Sean Cannon (UNC)
10. Isaiah Delgado (UVU)
11. Jack Skudlarczyk (UNI)
12. Rylee Molitor (SDSU)

141 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 6 – Josh Alber (UNI), Kaid Brock (OSU), Matt Findlay (UVU), Dom Demas (OU), Sam Turner (WYO), Ian Parker (ISU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Josh Alber (UNI)

2. Ian Parker (ISU)
3. Dom Demas (OU)
4. Matt Findlay (UVU)
5. Kaid Brock (OSU)
6. Sam Turner (WYO)
7. Garrett O’Shea (AF)
8. Chris DeLoza (FSU)
9. Aric Williams (SDSU)
10. Caleb Rea (WVU)
11. Sawyer Degen (NDSU)
12. Chris Sandoval (UNC)

149 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 7 – Max Thomsen (UNI), Kaden Gfeller (OSU), Jarrett Degen (ISU), Christian Monserrat (WVU) Kristian Olivas (FSU), Davion Jeffries (OU), Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Kaden Gfeller (OSU)
2. Max Thomsen (UNI)
3. Jarrett Degen (ISU)
4. Christian Monserrat (WVU)
5. Khristian Olivas (FSU)
6. Davion Jeffries (OU)
7. Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU)
8. Jaden Van maanen (NDSU)
9. Dante Rodriguez (UNC)
10. Matthew Ontiveros (UVU)
11. Jaron Jensen (WYO)
12. Alec Opsal (AF)

157 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 1 – Justin Thomas (OU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Just Thomas (OU)
2. Jacob Wright (FSU)
3. Chase Straw (ISU)
4. Wyatt Sheets (OSU)
5. Luke Weber (NDSU)
6. Dewey Kruegr (WYO)
7. Alex Mossing (AF)
8. Colten Carlson (SDSU)
9.  Grant Lamont (UVU)
10. Kyler Rea (WVU)
11. Paden Moore (UNI)
12. Jordan Robison (UNCO)

165 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 6 – Branson Ashworth (WYO), Demetrius Romero (UVU), Bryce Steiert (UNI), Andrew Fogarty (NDSU), Chandler Rogers (OSU), Nick Kiussis (WVU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Branson Ashworth (WYO)
2. Demetrius Romero (UVU)
3. Bryce Steiert (UNI)
4. Nick Kiussis (WVU)
5. Andrew Fogarty (NDSU)
6. Isaiah Hokit (FSU)
7. Jeremy Thomas (OU)
8. Joe Smith (OSU)
9. Logan Schumacher (ISU)
10. Macoy Flanagan (UNC)
11. Jacoby Ward (AF)
12. Logan Peterson (SDSU)

174 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 5 – Taylor Lujan, (UNI), Kimball Bastian, (UVU), Hayden Hastings, (WYO), Marcus Coleman, (ISU), Lorenzo De La Riva, (NDSU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Jacobe Smith (OSU)
2. Kimball Bastian (UVU)
3. Taylor Lujan (UNI)
4. Marcus Coleman (ISU)
5. Hayden Hastings (WYO)
6. Lorenzo De La Riva (NDSU)
7. Anthony Mantanona (OU)
8. Dominic Kincaid (FSU)
9. Seth Bogulski (UNC)
10. Samuel Grove (SDSU)
11. Randy Meneweather (AF)
12. James Wujeck (WVU)

184 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 5 – Drew Foster, (UNI), Samuel Colbray, (ISU), Tate Samuelson, (WYO), Jackson Hemauer, (FSU), Will Sumner, (UVU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Sam Colbray (ISU)

2. Drew Foster (UNI)
3. Dakota Geer (OSU)
4. Tate Samuelson (WYO)
5. Jackson Hemauer (FSU)
6. Will Sumner (UVU)
7. Zach Carlson (SDSU)
8. Kayne MacCallum (OU)
9. Tucker Nadeau (WVU)
10. Dalton Robertson (UNC)
11. Michael Otomno (NDSU)
12. Jake Thompson (AF)

197 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 7 – Willie Miklus (ISU), Josh Hokit (FSU), Tanner Orndorff (UVU), Jake Woodley (OU), Cale Davidson (WYO), Noah Adams (WVU) Jacob Seely (UNC)

Pre-seeds:
1. Preston Weigel (OSU)
2. Willie Miklus (ISU)
3. Josh Hokit (FSU)
4. Tanner Orndorff (UVU)
5. Jake Woodley (OU)
6. Noah Adams (WVU)
7. Jacob Seely (UNC)
8. Cale Davidson (WYO)
9. Martin Mueller (SDSU)
10. Cordell Eaton (NDSU)
11. Anthony McLaughlin (AF)
12. Izaak Shedenhelm (UNI)

285 Qualifiers
Auto-bids: 6 – Derek White (OSU), Tate Orndorff (UVU), Brian Andrews (WYO), AJ Nevills (FSU), Gannon Gremmel (ISU), Brandon Metz (NDSU)

Pre-seeds:
1. Derek White (OSU)
2. AJ Nevills (FSU)
3. Gannon Gremmel (ISU)
4. Tate Orndorff (UVU)
5. Brian Andrews (WYO)
6. Carter Isley (UNI)
7. Brandon Ngati (WVU)
8. Kayne Hutchinson (AF)
9. Robert Winters (UNC)
10. Brandon Metz (NDSU)
11. Blake Wolters (SDSU)
12. Jake Boyd (OU)

Full Schedule
Saturday, March 9

Session I – 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Preliminary & Quarterfinals Matches
Session II – 5:00 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Semifinal & Consolation Quarterfinal Matches

Sunday, March 10
Session III – 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Consolation Semifinals, 3rd & 5th Place Matches
Session IV – 7:00 p.m.
Championship Matches

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