Back Down to Tulsa: UNI Big 12 Preview

You can find full brackets, allocations, and schedule at the bottom of this page

For the third time in their three-year history in the Big 12 the UNI Panthers are headed down to Tulsa, Oklahoma for the conference tournament. Oklahoma State is looking for its seventh-straight Big 12 Tournament title after finishing tied on top for the dual crown.

The Panthers finished second two years ago to the Cowboys and third last season behind OSU and Iowa State. The script is flipped from last season, as UNI beat ISU in their dual meet but then finished behind them in Tulsa, while this season the Cyclones defeated the Panthers in the dual.

Doug Schwab’s team has seen three different conferences over the course of his ten years at the helm. UNI hasn’t won a conference crown in any of those years, and you have to go back to 2009 for their last West Regional Championship to see them on top in the postseason.

No team entering the tournament has all ten wrestlers seeded; Oklahoma State and Iowa State lead the way with nine each, UNI and Wyoming each have eight, while South Dakota State, North Dakota State, and Oklahoma all have seven. Fresno State and Northern Colorado both have six, Air Force has five, and Utah Valley and West Virginia round it out with four each.

UNI’s Jay Schwarm, Jack Skudlarczyk, Michael Blockhus, Max Thomsen, Bryce Steiert, Taylor Lujan, and Carter Isley all earned auto-bids for their weights for the Big 12. With the exception of Skudlarczyk, they are all seeded at least two spots above their respective weight’s number of auto-qualifiers, so even if they get upset they should still be in a good position to qualify.

At 125 pounds Jay Schwarm has proved that he can beat anybody this season from the top position. He leads the NCAA in falls (14) going into this weekend and has a four match win streak, all by pins, and will be an important part of UNI’s bonus point-win effort.

As the two seed he’s opposite OSU’s Nick Piccininni, whom he lost to in the OSU/UNI dual meet this season 9-6. He’ll get Air Force’s Cody Phippen in the opening round and with a win will move on to #7 Christian Moody – who he beat by fall in the OU/UNI dual. The interesting thing with Schwarm is that everybody “knows” what he’s going to do, but can they stop it? Few have this season.

Jack Skudlarczyk earned the seventh seed (even though he beat the sixth seeded Reece Witcraft) and will get the winner of Taylor LaMont (UVU) and Lawrence Saenz (FSU) in the quarterfinals. With just one win on the front side Skudlarczyk can guarantee his spot in Minneapolis in two weeks. I would not be surprised to see Skudlarczyk’s seed changed after Friday’s coaches meeting though.

At 141 pounds Michael Blocks brings in the three seed in the first Big 12 tournament of his career. The freshman will face off against Trevor Jeffries of Wyoming in the first round and with a win, will face the sixth seed in Caleb Rea. You might remember their first match from just a couple of weeks ago, when Blockhus held off Rea in overtime for an 11-10 win.

A win there probably puts him up against the seconded seeded Ian Parker from Iowa State. This, along with Schwarm, would be the second 2/3 battle between ISU and UNI in the semifinals, but with the Panther looking to flip the script.

The most interesting/worrying match of the tournament probably comes up at the next weight, where if everything goes to seed #3 Max Thomsen will take on #2 Henry Pohlymeyer in the semifinal. Thomsen has yet to beat Pohlymeyer in his career – they have wrestled three times and Pohlymeyer widened the gap between the two with a 9-1 major decision in the West Gym earlier this year. Assuming both make it, this could be Thomsen’s last chance for a win against the Iowa native.

At 157 pounds Paden Moore has been named the guy for the Panthers. He has been in and out of the lineup all year, along with Derek Holschlag and Keaton Geerts, but has the last win for UNI at the weight (a 5-3 win over ISU’s Grant Stotts). He’ll have his hands full though as he tries to qualify for the NCAA’s with only five spots on the line in Tulsa.

Austin Yant faces a similar position at 165 pounds, but with one fewer spot his road might be tougher. The eighth seed, Yant will get Utah Valley’s Koy Wilkinson in a rematch that went 2-0 in favor of Yant back in January. After that though he’ll see number one Travis Wittlake, who beat Yant 14-5 in the OSU/UNI dual last month. He’ll more than likely have to live on the backside of the bracket, where he might be able to steal the last qualifying spot if the bracket plays out right.

The first of two number one seeds for the Panthers is Bryce Steiert. Steiert has had a fantastic season, losing to only two different opponents all season (twice to Purdue’s Dylan Lydy and ISU’s Sam Colbray) on his way to the top spot in the Big 12. Of his 23 wins this season only seven have come by decision and if he can rack up extra bonus points this weekend that will go a long way to helping the Panthers in the team race.

Steiert is set to wrestle Billy Higgins from Northern Colorado (Steiert won their first match 16-1) and then Cody Surratt from Air Froce in the quarterfinals (Steiert shut him out 13-0 in their dual meet match). If everything goes to seed he’ll get Kimball Bastian from UVU in the semifinals, but with Joe Smith sitting at the five seed we shouldn’t be surprised to see another UNI/OSU rematch. Steiert’s in a little bit of an odd position in that he’s wrestled all of the tournaments favorites this season.

The second number one seed for the Panthers is Taylor Lujan. Not only is Lujan the favorite in Tulsa, but he might be the favorite in Minneapolis as well. An opening match against Utah Valley’s Ashton Seely should see bonus points from him, and then a rematch with Air Force’s Jake Thompson (who Lujan pinned earlier this year) sets the Panther up for a semifinal against either fourth seeded Alan Clothier from Northern Colorado or ISU’s fifth seeded Marcus Coleman. Either opponent would have the upset of the tournament if they knocked off Lujan on the way to the Big 12 final.

Isaiah Patton will take the mat at 197 pounds for UNI after wrestling there since backup Noah Glaser went down with injury. Patton is just 1-5 in his senior season, but wasn’t expected to be in the lineup at all this year, and certainly not at 197 pounds. His lone victory on the year put secured the Panther win against Wisconsin to cap off the dual season. He’ll have his work cut out for him to make the NCAA tournament this weekend though, with just half the field making it to Minneapolis.

Carter Isley wraps things up for the Panthers with the fourth seed at heavyweight and he’ll have some rematches on his plate if everything goes to seed. First he’ll see the winner of fifth seeded Brian Andrews (Wyoming) and Austin Harris (OSU) in the quarterfinals. Andrews is the heavy favorite there, and defeated Isley last season 4-2 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas. If Isley can get by him he’ll more than likely see Tate Orndorff in the semifinal, attempting to get the win after two Orndorff wins came earlier this season. If Isley falls to Andrews or Orndorff, look for him to be a strong favorite on the backside to close the tournament.

When all is said and done this weekend the Panthers should have seven qualifiers and maybe an eighth in Yant, depending on how the backside of 165 goes. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that UNI takes home second place in the conference either, mainly due to their two #1 seeds and their bonus point ability.

We’ll be down in Tulsa for the entire tournament, so follow along here as well as on our Twitter pages for results and updates.

Saturday, March 7
TIME SESSION LINKS
10:00 AM Doors Open To Public
11:00 AM Session I: Preliminary and quarterfinal matches ESPN+ | Results | Photos
4:00 PM Doors Open To Public
5:00 PM Session II: Semifinals, 1st and 2nd round consolations ESPN+ | Results | Recap | Photos
Sunday, March 8
TIME SESSION LINKS
10:00 AM Doors Open To Public
11:00 AM Session III: Consolation semifinals and place matches ESPN+ | Results | Recap | Photos
5:00 PM Doors Open To Public
6:00 PM Finals Fox Sports | Results | Recap | Photos

125 Qualifiers 
Auto Bids – 4: Alex Mackall (ISU), Jay Schwarm (UNI), Nick Piccininni (OSU), Danny Vega (SDSU)
1. Nick Piccininni (OSU)
2. Jay Schwarm (UNI)
3. Alex Mackall (ISU)
4. McGwire Midkiff (NDSU)
5. Jace Koelzer (UNC)
6. Danny Vega (SDSU)
7. Christian Moody (OU)
8. Joey Thomas (WVU)
Jeremy Trinh (FSU)
Josiah Nava (UVU)
Cody Phippen (AFA)
Jake Svihel (UW)

133 Qualifiers 
Auto Bids – 8: Todd Small (ISU), Cam Sykora (NDSU), Mosha Schwartz (UNC), Jack Skudlarczyk (UNI), Anthony Madrigal (OU), Reece Witcraft (OSU), Taylor LaMont (UVU), Montorie Bridges (UW)
1. Montorie Bridges (UW)
2. Taylor LaMont (UVU)
3. Cam Sykora (NDSU)
4. Anthony Madrigal (OU)
5. Todd Small (ISU)
6. Reece Witcraft (OSU)
7. Jack Skudlarczyk (UNI)
8. Mosha Schwartz (UNC)
Lucas Seibert (WVU)
Zach Price (SDSU)
Lawrence Saenz (FSU)
Jared VanVleet (AFA)

141 Qualifiers
Auto-bids – 5: DJ Lloren (FSU), Ian Parker (ISU), Michael Blockhus (UNI), Dom Demas (OU), Dusty Hone (OSU)
Auto Bids:
1. Dom Demas (OU)
2. Ian Parker (ISU)
3. Michael Blockhus (UNI)
4. Dusty Hone (OSU)
5. DJ Lloren (FSU)
6. Caleb Rea (WVU)
7. Clay Carlson (SDSU)
8. Lenny Petersen (AFA)
Chris Sandoval (UNC)
Kainalu Estrella (UVU)
Dylan Droegemueller (NDSU)
Trevor Jeffries (UW)

149 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 5: Max Thomsen (UNI), Boo Lewallen (OSU), Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU), Jarrett Degen (ISU), Andrew Alirez (UNC)
1. Boo Lewallen (OSU)
2. Henry Pohlmeyer (SDSU)
3. Max Thomsen (UNI)
4. Jarrett Degen (ISU)
5. Andrew Alirez (UNC)
6. Greg Gaxiola (FSU)
7. Jaden Van Maanen (NDSU)
8. Jaron Jensen (UW)
Cameron Hunsaker (UVU)
Jacob Butler (OU)
Seth Hogue (WVU)
Dylan Martinez (AFA)

157 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 5: Justin Thomas (OU), Wyatt Sheets (OSU), Jacob Wright (FSU), David Carr (ISU), Jared Franek (NDSU)
1. David Carr (ISU)
2. Jared Franek (NDSU)
3. Wyatt Sheets (OSU)
4. Justin Thomas (OU)
5. Jacob Wright (FSU)
6. Alex Hornfeck (WVU)
7. Dewey Krueger (UW)
8. Peyton Smith (SDSU)
Jed Loveless (UVU)
Paden Moore (UNI)
Jimmy Fate (UNC)
Trey Brisker (AFA)

165 – Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 4: Randy Meneweather (AFA), Andrew Fogarty (NDSU), Travis Wittlake (OSU), Tanner Cook (SDSU)
1. Travis Wittlake (OSU)
2. Andrew Fogarty (NDSU)
3. Randy Meneweather (AFA)
4. Tanner Cook (SDSU)
5. Cole Moody (UW)
6. Chase Straw (ISU)
7. Adam Kemp (FSU)
8. Austin Yant (UNI)
Koy Wilkinson (UVU)
Elijah Joseph (OU)
Nick Kiussis (WVU)
Jordan Robinson (UNC)

174 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 5: Sam Colbray (ISU), Bryce Steiert (UNI), Anthony Mantonona (OU), Kimball Bastian (UVU), Hayden Hasting (UW)
1. Bryce Steiert (UNI)
2. Anthony Mantonona (OU)
3. Sam Colbray (ISU)
4. Kimball Bastian (UVU)
5. Joe Smith (OSU)
6. Hayden Hasting (UW)
7. Jackson Hemauer (FSU)
8. Cody Surratt (AFA)
Billy Higgins (UNC)
Luke Weber (NDSU)
Cade King (SDSU)
Scott Joll (WVU)

184 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 5: Coleman, Clothier, Lujan, Montalvo, Carlson
1. Taylor Lujan (UNI)
2. Anthony Montalvo (OSU)
3. Zach Carlson (SDSU)
4. Alan Clothier (UNC)
5. Marcus Coleman (ISU)
6. Darrien Roberts (OU)
7. Tate Samuelson (UW)
8. Jake Thompson (AFA)
Ashton Seely (UVU)
Jackson Moomau (WVU)
Hunter Cruz (FSU)
Noah Cressell (NDSU)

197 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 6: Jacob Seely (UNC), Jake Woodley (OU), Dakota Geer (OSU), Tanner Sloan (SDSU), Noah Adams (WVU), Stephen Buchanan (UW)
1. Noah Adams (WVU)
2. Tanner Sloan (SDSU)
3. Jake Woodley (OU)
4. Stephen Buchanan (UW)
5. Dakota Geer (OSU)
6. Tanner Orndorff (UVU)
7. Jacob Seely (UNC)
8. Cordell Eaton (NDSU)
Isaiah Patton (UNI)
Isaiah Perez (FSU)
Joel Shaprio (ISU)
Casey Jumps (AFA)

285 Qualifiers
Auto Bids – 7: Tate Orndorff (UVU), Brian Andrews (UW), Josh Hokit (FSU), Gannen Gremmel (ISU), Brandon Metz (NDSU), Dalton Robertson (UNC), Carter Isley (UNI)
1. Tate Orndorff (UVU)
2. Gannen Gremmel (ISU)
3. Josh Hokit (FSU)
4. Carter Isley (UNI)
5. Brian Andrews (UW)
6. Dalton Robertson (UNC)
7. Brandon Metz (NDSU)
8. Kayne Hutchison (AFA)
Blake Wolters (SDSU)
Austin Harris (OSU)
Josiah Jones (OU)
Brandon Ngati (WVU)

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