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NCAA wrestling notes: UNI redshirt freshman Parker Keckeisen becomes All-American
ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen bolted right to his corner and delivered a solid smack to his coaches' hands.
He was propelled by the adrenaline coursing through his body after extending his unbeaten season for one more match and earning his first All-America honor.
Keckeisen scored a takedown in sudden victory-2, beating Virginia Tech's Hunter Bolen, 4-2, in the 184-pound quarterfinals at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on Friday at Enterprise Center. He became the Panthers' first redshirt freshman All-American since Max Thomsen placed fifth at 149 here in 2017.
'I was pretty hyped up,” Keckeisen said. 'A lot of excitement. I was pretty happy. I got it done.
'(UNI assistant Lee) Roper and (UNI Coach) Doug (Schwab) do a lot for me, so go slap their hand and give them acknowledgement.”
Keckeisen has demonstrated intangibles that have boosted him over opponents. He possesses poise, resilience and tenacity that allow him to win close matches. Schwab praised his ability to transfer his effort in practice to competition.
'I don't know if it's a knack,” Schwab said. 'I think it's just hearts, some guts and some big ol' balls, man.
'‘I'm going to go out and I'm actually going to compete like I train. I'm not going to talk about doing it. I'm going to put it out there underneath the lights.' He does it. He's done it all year. He's been impressive with him (and) how he keeps composure.”
Keckeisen and Bolen battled for 9:32 total, exchanging escapes in regulation and two more in the first over tiebreakers after a scoreless sudden victory-1. Keckeisen continued to attack and finally broke through about midway through the one-minute period.
'I think we were hanging in collar ties,” Keckeisen said. 'I heard him breathing heavy, so I'm like it's time to go. I felt an opportunity, snapping my hands on him, moving my feet and then I think I just got to a double.”
The marathon-like bout was no issue for Keckeisen. He's experienced similar situations in practice
'I feel pretty good,” Keckeisen said. 'I've been in those deep waters all the time. Coach puts us in those situations, so I was prepared.”
Schwab said Keckeisen was finally rewarded for his relentless offense. He thought Keckeisen had pressured Bolen enough to garner a stall call that would have ended it. He didn't need it.
'You fire enough times you're going to hit the target,” Schwab said. 'How many times did he put himself underneath the guy? You don't see this called very often (but) I thought this guy is going to get called for stalling and he's going to win on a stall call in overtime.”
UNI's Brody Teske suffered a tough loss in his quarterfinal at 125. He led Central Michigan's Drew Hildebrandt by two in the final seconds. Hildebrandt scored a takedown to force sudden victory and then scored another to win it 4-2.
Iowa State's Jarrett Degen likely done
Jarrett Degen has been a key performer for Iowa State during his college career. He is a four-time NCAA qualifier and two-time All-American. Injuries caught up with the senior 149-pounder, who entered the tournament as the 18th seed and went 0-2.
'He's shown signs of fighting injuries, not just only this year, but his whole career,” Iowa State Coach Kevin Dresser. 'It's just not the same Jarrett Degen we thought we'd get this year just in terms of his body. His effort is great, but it's just what happened there.”
Dresser was asked if Degen would return next season and take advantage of an extra year of eligibility since the NCAA determined this season wouldn't count against athletes this season.
'We haven't talked to him about it,” Dresser said. 'I would say, no, right now just because after a while continually fighting (injuries) for two-plus years now. He looks like a 70-year-old man out there and that's a hard enough sport when you're 23.
'We'll cross that bridge. Obviously, we've got things to figure out a little bit once we get through this weekend.”
Degen placed seventh in 2019 and was a first-team All-America selection by the National Wrestling Coaches Association last season. He has 74 career victories.
NCAA champion drops out
Virginia Tech's Mekhi Lewis was the 165-pound NCAA champion in 2019. He returned after last year's redshirt season. Lewis was the fourth seed at 165, despite a shoulder injury in February that kept him out of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Unfortunately, Lewis medically forfeited out of the tournament before his quarterfinal with Bucknell's fifth-seeded Zach Hartman.
Lewis, who qualified with an at-large berth, gave a valiant effort with two victories Thursday. He beat Lehigh's Bryan Meyer (8-3) and Navy's Tanner Skidgel (3-2). In both bouts, he was visibly bothered by the shoulder injury.
'After much consideration and in the best interest of his health, we have decided to medically withdraw Mekhi Lewis from the remainder of the national championship,” Virginia Tech Coach Tony Robie posted on the program's official Twitter account. 'We are incredibly proud of Mekhi's effort and toughness throughout this whole process.”
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