UNI Panthers

Midlands wrestling notes: UNI's Max Thomsen focused on strong finish

Senior 1 of 5 Panthers to reach quarterfinals; Iowa's Michael Kemerer idle; Bryce West wins first two matches

UNI wrestler Max Thomsen
UNI wrestler Max Thomsen

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Northern Iowa Max Thomsen has a little more than two months left of his college wrestling career.

The senior 149-pound All-American is determined to make the most out of the final stretch.

“I’m just excited about the future,” Thomsen said. “Kind of put the things that have happened the first half of the year behind me and now focusing on the next moment.

“I’m excited to put the right stamp on my wrestling career.”

Thomsen was one of five Panthers to reach the quarterfinals at the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships on Sunday at Sears Centre Arena. He is looking to improve his runner-up finish here last year.

“One of my goals this year was to be a Midlands champion,” Thomsen said. “That’s what I’m working for. I’m just going to try to do it one position at a time.”

Thomsen disposed of Central Michigan’s Corbyn Munson quickly with a 16-0 technical fall in his opener. He followed with a 9-2 decision over Stevens Institute of Technology’s Brett Kaliner, who is ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division III.

“I have to keep it going, even late in the match when I’ve got a lead,” Thomsen said. “I have to find some positions where if I don’t want to take risks find something to stay busy.”

Thomsen’s resume has been impressive since day one. The former Union Community four-time state champion has been a Big 12 finalist and three-time NCAA qualifier, placing fifth as a freshman. The goals are still golden for here, conference and national tournaments, but he is concerned mostly with consistently being his best. If he does that, the wrestling will take care of the rest.

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“I want to leave the Panthers fans with what I want them to remember me by,” Thomsen said. “The style, the amount of attacks and just the heart that I can show out there.”

Thomsen was joined in the quarterfinals by teammates Michael Blockhus (141), Bryce Steiert at 174, top-seeded 184-pounder Taylor Lujan and heavyweight Carter Isley.

Iowa's Michael Kemerer is idle

Iowa’s Michael Kemerer was listed as a probable participant for the Midlands Championships. When the brackets were released, the two-time Midlands champion was not in the 174-pound bracket.

Iowa Coach Tom Brands was asked why Kemerer did not compete.

“It doesn’t really matter,” Brands said. “It’s December. We’re going to do the best thing and if it’s the Big Ten Championships he’s going.”

Kemerer, a two-time All-American, attended the tournament and was on the arena floor in street clothes. He was actively supporting teammates during the opening session.

Bryce West update

Former Highland and Solon state champion Bryce West started strong Sunday morning. West pinned Franklin & Marshall’s Jose Diaz in 1:08 of the opening round at 125. The 12th-seeded Northern Illinois sophomore followed with a 13-7 decision over Princeton’s Sean Pierson to reach the round of 16.

West has already matched his best showing in three Midlands appearances. He went 2-2 last year as a redshirt freshman and won one bout wrestling unattached in 2017.

West has 10 victories this season with four pins and a major decision. He has 26 career victories for the Huskies.

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Illinois' We Rachal has fastest pin

Illinois’ We Rachal recorded the fastest fall of the opening sessions Sunday.

Rachal needed just nine seconds to pin Northern Illinois’ Anthony Gibson in a 141-pound consolation match.

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

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