General observations from the wrestling weekend that was.
Cowboys wrangle Panthers
UNI Coach Doug Schwab and the Panthers were enthusiastic about the move to the Big 12 Conference. The switch provided the opportunity to compete against well-known programs, including traditional power Oklahoma State and a chance to wrestle in historic Gallagher-Iba Arena.
“It’s exciting we get to go down to Oklahoma State this year,” Schwab said during the team’s annual media day. “I don’t look at it any different. We still prepare the same. Now we have Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and all those other teams in our conference, which is good for us, because we want to be battled-tested and ready when we head to the national tournament. I know we will be.”
The 13th-ranked Panthers made their trip to Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday only to suffer a 24-10 defeat at the hands of the No. 5 Cowboys.
UNI’s top trio — Max Thomsen, Taylor Lujan and Drew Foster — each earned victories. Thomsen and Lujan earned decisions at 149 and 174, respectively. Thomsen, a returning All-American ranked eighth, scored a takedown in the first sudden victory period for a 3-1 decision over No. 14 Boo Lewallen. All-American and ninth-ranked Foster added a 12-2 major decision over previously ranked Keegan Moore at 184.
The Panthers dropped to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, falling to No. 12 South Dakota State earlier this season. UNI hosts Iowa State (7-8, 2-5) on Saturday at the West Gym in a series that now adds conference ramifications.
“Looking forward to have an in-state rival,” Schwab said of Iowa State. “It’s exciting for me. It’s exciting for our team. It’s exciting for the state.”
Penn State wins No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle
Top-ranked Penn State was considered vulnerable. Ohio State fields a ranked wrestler at every weight with bookend NCAA champions, a third titlist and another top-ranked wrestler. Plus, the Nittany Lions were missing NCAA champion Jason Nolf, who was on crutches after a knee injury suffered last weekend in a dual against Rutgers.
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None of that was a problem as Penn State won four of the last five matches, including a major decision by Bo Nickal over Myles Martin in a battle of national champions, for a 19-18 victory.
Things looked to play out that way as Ohio State claimed the first three matches and held a 15-5 lead at the break.
Penn State reeled off four wins against ranked foes. The biggest came at 197 pounds when Anthony Cassar topped No. 1 Kollin Moore, 6-3, at 197. Cassar has split time with junior Shakur Rasheed, who is ranked seventh by trackwrestling.com. Cassar’s victory gave the Lions a four-point lead and a large advantage in tiebreaker criteria, causing Ohio State two-time NCAA champion and Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder to need a technical fall. Snyder tried some high-risk moves, looking for extra bonus points, but Nick Nevills was able to keep it at a 15-10 decision. Penn State clinched the Big Ten dual title before hosting seventh-ranked Iowa on Saturday.
Happel thorn in Minnesota's side
Iowa’s Carter Happel received the nod against rival Minnesota Friday, drawing No. 10 Tommy Thorn. Happel scored the first and the last takedown in the match. The final points as time ticked down, coming from an inside trip that Happel executed. Thorn let up and Happel put the finishing touches on his match and the decisive dual victory with a pin in 6:58.
“I felt really good going out there,” Happel said. “Tom has been putting it in our heads all week about wrestling hard seven minutes, so I went out there and wanted to wrestle hard all seven minutes.”
Happel even drew praise from Iowa Coach Tom Brands, noting Happel wrestled much tougher and with more energy than his last match, which was a lackluster bout at Ohio State.
“It was good,” Brands said. “He was in it.
“He looked different coming out there. His energy was different.”
Bono hits 100
South Dakota State Coach and former Iowa State NCAA champion and two-time finalist Chris Bono earned his 100th dual victory as a head coach. He did it against a familiar program as well. The Jackrabbits handled the Cyclones, 30-15, Sunday at Frost Arena in Brookings, S.D.
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Bono owns a 100-58 career record. He is 61-41 in his six seasons at SDSU. He was 39-17 in three years as head coach at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
The highlight for Iowa State came at 197 pounds. The Cyclones’ Sam Colbray pinned ninth-ranked Nate Rotert.
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