HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — The discussion at Northern Iowa’s wrestling media day was the need to transfer potential into production.
The Panthers demonstrated signs of it this weekend.
UNI secured its best team finish, securing a top-three finish and advancing a program best four to the finals of Northwestern’s 56th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Sunday at Sears Centre Arena. The Panthers tallied 111 1/2 points before the placing round.
“These guys really starting to believe in themselves and have the confidence that they are the best guys,” UNI Coach Doug Schwab said. “We’ve been telling them. I know they are some of the best guys in the country, if not the best guys in the country, but now they’re proving it when the lights are shining.
“You’ve got to shine brightest on the biggest stages and they’re doing a good job of that.”
Each UNI top seed won as the Panthers went 4-2 in the semifinals. Third-seeded Max Thomsen reached the title bout, joining teammates Josh Alber (141), 174-pounder Taylor Lujan and Drew Foster at 184.
Foster and Lujan were incredibly dominant in their runs to the finals. Lujan pinned three of four foes, including a 42-second semifinal fall over Northern Illinois’ Brit Wilson. Foster beat Fresno State’s Jackson Hemauer, 11-1, for his second consecutive major decision to go along with a pin and technical fall.
Bryce Steiert assured of matching his seed, rebounding from a semifinal loss with a dominant major decision over Brown’s Jonathan Viruet.
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“I think it’s more how we’re winning,” Schwab said. “It’s how you win. Even if you’re not winning, it’s how we’re competing.”
In addition to the starters, UNI had two true freshmen place. Schwab isn’t sure if the Panthers have ever done that, but it hasn’t happened in his nine seasons as head coach.
Michael Blockhus reached the bronze medal match at 141. Blockhus advanced to the semifinals before falling to Iowa’s Max Murin. He beat Army’s Corey Shie in consolation action to move into the top four.
Freshman Kyle Biscoglia placed seventh with a 5-2 mark, beating Central Michigan’s 23rd-ranked Drew Hildebrandt, 2-0, in the consolation round.
They are setting the bar higher for the next class.
“They’re incredibly coachable,” Schwab said. “They’re listening to what is going on. They are proving to themselves they are one of the best guys in the country. 'Instead of coach telling me, I get to go out and prove it.'”
Schwab isn’t satisfied with finishes outside of first. He understands there is a process but the goal is to close that gap. The Panthers need more than just five guys to do it.
“We need 10 guys scoring points,” Schwab said. “The guys are doing a great job. I’m excited for them to have this opportunity to win Midlands titles.”
Jeren Glosser's streak
Iowa’s Jeren Glosser strung together eight consecutive consolation-bracket victories, earning a top-four finish at 157 pounds. Glosser lost his opening bout in the first tiebreaker and then battled his way back onto the podium.
It may not be where he wanted to be in the bracket, but it was an impressive feat.
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“(Iowa coaches) Tom and Terry (Brands) talk all the time about if something does happen, you lose you have to come back and get third,” Glosser said. “The next best thing and that’s what I am doing. Just following their advice.”
Glosser improved to 15-3 entering the final round. He scored a takedown on a nifty flurry over Illinois’ fifth-seeded and 15th-ranked Eric Barone in the consolation semifinal. Glosser had two major decisions and a pin during the stretch.
“For me, it’s relaxing and then when I get up and get on the mat it is go-time,” Glosser said. “Can’t let jitters get you. Just go out there and perform when it’s time.
“Like they show us every day in the room. Just wrestle hard.”
Glosser dropped Rutgers’ 13th-ranked John Vanbrill and Army’s No. 19 Luke Weiland before Barone on Sunday. The 12th seed is battle-tested already from his workout partners.
“I wrestle tough guys every day in the room,” Glosser said. “I wrestle (Alex) Marinelli, (Kaleb) Young (and) those guys all the time, so it’s nothing different. You just get ready to go and step on the mat to do what you do.”
Former Johnston prep and South Dakota State 149-pounder Henry Pohlmeyer placed eighth. Pohlmeyer is ranked 16th nationally.
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