UNI Panthers

Iowa Wrestling Weekend That Was: A closer look at UNI's season-opening opening sweep

Panthers beat SDSU and NDSU; Upper Iowa goes down to the wire; Benton tourney doesn't disappoint

Northern Iowa Panthers head coach Doug Schwab. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Northern Iowa Panthers head coach Doug Schwab. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

College wrestling has resumed for multiple programs. Northern Iowa hit the mat for a double-dual in Brookings, S.D. Upper Iowa and Northern State (S.D.) went down to the wire. And in high school, the Bobcat Jerry Eckenrod Invitational did not disappoint. Here is the “Wrestling Weekend That Was.”

UNI opens with dual sweep

Northern Iowa Coach Doug Schwab said he was sick of talking during the program’s media day Zoom last week. He was ready for this group of hungry Panthers to take the mat for the first time in the pandemic-shortened season. And, they were going to do so with chips firmly placed on their shoulders.

With many outsiders looking past them because of many new faces in the lineup, UNI trampled host South Dakota State (28-13) and North Dakota State (27-11) on Sunday. The Panthers recorded five pins total.

Kyle Biscoglia provided a notable fall at 133 pounds against the Jackrabbits. He decked 14th-ranked Zach Price. Interestingly, Biscoglia, of Waukee, and Price, a former Johnston prep, wrestled as high school freshmen. Johnston won three meetings – 6-3, 4-2 and 4-2 – at 106 pounds.

Biscoglia overcame a slow start and took the lead, 5-4, before pinning Price in 6:22. He is expected to battle No. 13 Jake Skudlarczyk for the Panthers’ starting spot. Skudlarczyk is a returning national qualifier and he followed with a 4-0 decision over North Dakota State’s No. 16 Kellyn March.

“We have two good guys there,” Schwab said. “They showed it. They both beat guys, who are ranked.”

In addition to Biscoglia, Triston Lara had a fall against SDSU. He trailed by two when he headlocked Hunter Marko and got a pin in 5:42. Lara, one of a quartet of former Fort Dodge preps in UNI’s starting lineup, went 2-0. Former Dodgers teammate Brody Teske, a transfer from Penn State, won both matches at 125, scoring a fall over NDSU’s McGwire Midkiff in 4:36 and a 13-11 decision of SDSU’s Danny Vega.

Keegan Moore donned the UNI singlet for the first time in his third season in the room. He was a national qualifier as a freshman for Oklahoma State and transferred into a talented upper-weight group that included NCAA champ Drew Foster and last year’s top-seeded Taylor Lujan at 184.

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Schwab noted that Moore has grown as a person and wrestler during his time at UNI, making better choices physically, mentally, spiritually and socially. Schwab said he was proud of Moore’s progress. Sunday was the reward for a long personal journey.

“He’s grown so much as a person and a man and lifestyle things have changed,” Schwab said during his weekly media conference Monday. “Those have to continue to happen.

“He came to the right place. He’s worked through it but he’s had some people here. He’s had some coaches who truly believed in him as a person, not as a wrestler, but sometimes you have to get over some things and get some baggage off. Then you’re able to compete like you’re capable.”

Upper Iowa edged in opener

Upper Iowa opened the season with a home dual Thursday against Northern State. The dual went down to the wire before the Wolves pulled out an 18-15 victory over the No. 20 Peacocks.

The two teams split all 10 matches with a pin at 149 providing the decisive points for the Wolves. The dual was tied, 15-15, going into the final bout at heavyweight. Even then, they needed extra time. Northern State’s Michael Loyola and Jordan Baumler wrestled nine minutes, including the first tiebreaker when Loyola scored a reversal and ride out for a 3-2 decision.

Kaden Anderlik (125), Chase Luensman (157), Myron Crawford (174), Dalton Hahn (184) and 197-pounder Zach Ryg all won for Upper Iowa.

Benton did not disappoint

Benton Community’s Jerry Eckenrod Invitational did not disappoint Saturday. The individual tournament featured between about 60 and 70 ranked wrestlers with ranked wrestlers facing off as early as the quarterfinals.

Eight ranked teams were in the field. The team race wasn’t settled until two of the last three matches were completed with West Delaware skipping by Waukee for the title by five points.

Many in attendance were excited to see Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala compete. The three-time state finalist and two-time champion is ranked No. 1 nationally at 126. He has signed with Iowa and he demonstrated why he is considered the state’s most exciting wrestler. Ayala (17-0) racked up 53 total points in three matches, earning two first-period pins and a second-period technical fall. He was a no-brainer for the Outstanding Wrestler award and showed why high expectations surround his future career with the Hawkeyes.

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

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