5 memorable Northern Iowa moments at 2017 NCAA Wrestling Championships

Commentary: From big pins to even bigger wins, these highlighted UNI's performance

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Top five moments for UNI wrestlers and former Iowa preps at this year's NCAA Wrestling Championships:

 

5. Jack Hathaway opens with big pin

Former Iowa City West state champion showed how he finished with 137 career prep pins. Oregon State’s Hathaway made his second NCAA appearance, going 0-2 in 2015. His first nationals victory was a big one, upsetting North Carolina All-American and No. 7 seed Joseph Ward at 141. He trailed 2-0 after the first. Ward chose bottom and Hathaway made him pay, locking up his patented bar arm and pinning him in 3:28. Hathaway went 2-2, winning both by fall.

4. Comeback for Dylan Peters

UNI’s two-time All-American and inspirational leader battled numerous injuries this season after reaching the NCAA podium on a torn knee ligament last year. He fell to eventual 125 champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh in round one. After his first win, the gritty senior faced elimination, trailing CSU-Bakersfield’s Sean Nickell, 6-0. Peters stormed back, using a reversal to pull within a point in the second. Peters escaped in the third and then scored the winning takedown with 17 seconds left to win 8-7. Peters lost the next match, but showed the toughness that produced a great career for UNI.

• Top 5 Hawkeye moments at NCAA wrestling

3. Josh Alber’s cement mixer

For the second consecutive year, 133-pounder Josh Alber won his opening match at the NCAA tournament. This one, however, was a little more exciting. Alber and Michigan State’s Austin Eicher were scoreless early in their first-round bout. With a propensity for the big move, Alber let loose with a “cement mixer,” rolling Eicher to his back from a front-headlock position. The Panthers’ sophomore flashed a smile to UNI Coach Doug Schwab after his pin in 2:23. He provided a spark that led to five straight UNI victories.

2. Foster-ing talent

UNI redshirt sophomore Drew Foster wasn’t a highly coveted recruit, but Panthers’ assistant Randy Pugh recognized his potential. They worked together and Foster earned his place among the nation’s best at 184, placing seventh in arguably one of the deepest weight classes. He entered the tournament as the 12th seed, advancing to the quarterfinals with a big victory over Virginia Tech’s No. 5 Zach Zavatsky. Foster scored a takedown with a little more than a minute left, capping a three-point period and held on to beat Zavatsky, 4-3. Foster added a win over the 10th seed and finished an impressive 11-7 win over Indiana’s No. 9-seed Nate Jackson.

1. Revenge for Mad Max

UNI 149-pounder and former Union four-time state champion reversed two past results and both punctuated a strong showing in his first NCAA tournament. Thomsen, who was a takedown away from the finals, secured All-American honors with a 5-1 quarterfinal victory over Rutgers’ Kenny Theobold, who beat Thomsen by seven at the 2015 Midlands Championships. It paled in comparison to his final match. Seventh-seeded Thomsen thumped Virginia Tech’s Solomon Chishko, 10-4, racking up four takedowns for fifth place. The result demonstrated Thomsen’s progress, suffering a 6-2 loss to Chishko in November. Thomsen became the highest placing Panther freshman since Mark Schwab was fifth in 1986.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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