CEDAR FALLS — In Northern Iowa’s most anticipated home dual of the season, Bryce Steiert and Taylor Lujan were at the center of the Panthers’ 19-15 win over No. 8 Oklahoma State at McLeod Center Saturday night.
“Good performance for our team. Had some guys really step up in some spots,” UNI coach Doug Schwab said. “Steiert, that’s some good attacks. That guy is wrestling really good right now. It was really good for him to get bonus points and kind of get the crowd (going). Then Carter finishes it off.”
Before Steiert and Lujan’s heroics, No. 20 UNI (5-3, 4-1) got its first boost of the evening from Keaton Geerts at 157. Geerts defeated favorite Wyatt Sheets — despite not knowing if he was wrestling until after the first period of Max Thomsen’s match at 149 — 8-6 with a third period escape and riding time to put the Panthers in front, 9-6.
“The big thing that I’ve started doing is believing in myself. If I go out on the mat and believe in myself I think I can do almost anything,” Geerts said. “It was a huge (victory). The crowd stood up and got all into it.”
Travis Wittlake’s 14-5 decision over Austin Yant at 165 allowed the Cowboys (7-2, 3-1) to recapture the lead 10-9. After Yant’s loss is when Steiert and Lujan combined to keep Oklahoma State from gaining additional separation.
Steiert’s 13-2 major decision over Joe Smith at 174 put UNI back in front, 13-10. Lujan’s 4-0 decision over Anthony Montalvo that followed at 184 gave the Panthers a 16-10 cushion.
At 197, Oklahoma State’s Dakota Geer got the Cowboys back within one with a 20-4 tech fall over Noah Glaser (8-13), setting up 12th-ranked heavyweight Carter Isley to be UNI’s closer as it clung to a 16-15 lead entering the match.
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Knowing that Oklahoma State’s Austin Harris would likely lack aggression due to the weight advantage Isley (15-6) held, the UNI senior scored all five of his points in the third period with two takedowns and an escape. With 4,003 fans on their feet, Isley celebrated his dual-clinching decision by firing off two hands of finger pistols before holstering them at his waist.
“Coach came back and he’s like ‘I don’t know a better closer I want to finish this,” Isley said. “I was like, ‘(Baseball Hall of Famer) Mariano Rivera was a pretty good closer.’ He’s was like, ‘alright, you go be that Mariano Rivera.’ So it was a pretty cool moment, I’m glad I got that opportunity to go out and compete.”
UNI travels to Norman, Okla., next Saturday for a 3 p.m. dual against the Sooners (3-3, 1-2).