CEDAR FALLS — Northern Iowa’s Max Thomsen and Drew Foster ended last season as All-Americans.
The Panthers duo will start this season as All-Stars.
Thomsen and Foster were invited to compete at the 52nd National Wrestling Coaches Association All-Star Dual Classic on Sunday at Princeton University’s Jadwin Gym. They are the first Panthers invited since 2004.
Thomsen will wrestle Princeton’s Matthew Kolodzik at 149 pounds. Foster will take on North Carolina State’s Pete Renda at 184.
“It’s obviously a showcase event,” Schwab said. “I think the eyes of the country are on that event, so it’s great for us having two guys and hopefully next year there are three or four or five.
“I know some teams don’t send their guys, but for us right now getting in front of the big stage and bigger matches some of these guys can compete in the better.”
Thomsen was excited for the chance to promote the program. He said it was a great opportunity.
“I think it’s a big deal to me because I want to help the future UNI Panthers,” Thomsen said. “When people look and see two guys from UNI, me and Drew, people are going to start getting excited. What are they doing at UNI? Maybe I want to go check out UNI.”
Thomsen, a sophomore, finished 31-7 last season, placing fifth at the NCAA Championships in March. Kolodzik, also a sophomore, went 30-4 last year and entered the national tournament as the fourth seed before getting seventh.
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“He’s wrestling a high-level guy right away,” Schwab said. “I know he’ll probably have a big home crowd, which is all right. We like that.
“It’s all right if everyone’s against you. You go out and compete a certain way. It really doesn’t matter.”
Foster placed seventh at 184 last year, going 26-6. Renda is a senior, returning from a redshirt season. Renda was 26-8 and placed third at nationals in 2016.
“I don’t know much,” Foster said. “I don’t really do much scouting. Coaches have said he’s pretty good on top. He has a decent high-crotch so I might watch a little bit of film but the big thing is just wrestling my style and sticking to my stuff.”
Foster said he likes the company. He said he would like to see even more Panthers earn an invitational to the annual event.
“I wish we could have more guys,” Foster said. “I wish we could have a full roster there. It’s an exciting thing and to have a teammate with you along the way is awesome.”
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