CEDAR FALLS — Max Thomsen is accomplished, knowledgeable and he is a Scholar All-American majoring in management.
Northern Iowa’s four-time NCAA qualifier has options. He just isn’t sure what the future holds.
“I’m still in the process of deciding if I want to continue wrestling, maybe start getting into coaching or pursue a career, too,” Thomsen said. “I’m pretty uncertain, right now. With the quarantine, it’s a little harder to get in contact with people. It’s tougher to be able to make a decision when everything is not in full swing.”
Thomsen closed his career in March when the season ended with the cancellation of the NCAA Championships. He was named a third-team All-American this season, providing a bookend honor to go with his fifth-place national tournament finish as a freshman. Thomsen finished his career as one of just 22 Panthers to surpass 100 career victories.
The former Union Community four-time state champion produced a steady career as UNI’s 149-pounder the last four seasons. He compiled 103 wins as a Mid-American Conference and Big 12 Conference finalist. He was also a Midlands runner-up.
“When you look back, you’re always going to want more,” Thomsen said. “I’m proud of how things went. I think I gave myself a lot of chances to win.
“I feel I had a pretty consistent career. Most importantly, I feel I became a better all-around person, going through wrestling. Not just on the mat, but in the classroom and in social situations.”
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UNI’s senior class helped propel the program into a new era under head coach Doug Schwab. Thomsen and 174-pounder Bryce Steiert were two-time All-Americans, reaching the NCAA meet each year. Taylor Lujan was a four-time NCAA qualifier and three-time conference champion, earning All-America honors this year after claiming the top seed at 184. Lujan also surpassed 100 wins, posting a 112-22 career mark. Jay Schwarm (125) led NCAA Division I with 16 pins his senior campaign.
“We wanted to finish things right and try to get a team trophy for Doug,” Thomsen said. “I think we did help raise the standard of UNI wrestling.”
Thomsen entered the NCAA tournament as the 13th seed with a 20-8 record. Like many wrestlers, he wasn’t able to cap his college career in competition. His final appearance was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Things were tough to digest at first but perspective came with time.
“First, it was really bitter with the situation,” Thomsen said. “As time goes on, I’m starting to get more levelheaded and seeing this has affected a lot of people. I’m not the only person affected, so I can’t be selfish and whine about missing my opportunity. There are a lot of people all over the country, seniors in high school, and in all sports, losing their opportunities, too. Sitting and kind of whining about it isn’t going to make things better. I just have to look at the positives and be excited for the future.”
Thomsen has squeezed in some extra fishing and getting out in nature, going up the nearby river and getting out on the lake. His focus has been on academics and attempting to remain active.
“I’m finishing my online classes, trying to stay busy whatever way we can with being quarantined,” Thomsen said. “We’re excited to get back into society and get things back to normal.
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