CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Five Panthers earned medals at No. 22 UNI wrestling's first trip to the Southern Scuffle, helping the team to a fifth-place finish.
"We competed well up and down the lineup, but we have to be more consistent in some weight classes," said head coach Doug Schwab. "Guys are figuring out how good they are. I saw the guys grow a lot in this tournament. It shows something about these guys to come back and rally."
Josh Alber (133), Max Thomsen (149) and Bryce Steiert (165) knocked off higher-ranked opponents to take third. Drew Foster was sixth at 184 pounds, and Taylor Lujan finished seventh in the 174-pound weight class.
Alber and Steiert had rematches with opponents they had beaten earlier in the tournament, while Thomsen faced a top-10 wrestler to win bronze.
Foster's loss not only sent him into the consolations but bumped him from the tournament. He forfeited his final matches.
"Sometimes you have fight through and other times it's best to get some rest," Schwab said. "I like how he is competing. It's one of the deepest weights in the country. He got dinged early in the match, and I think it had an impact. I do feel like he could pick that guy apart. He is going to continue to grow and get better. I don't think there's a doubt he's one of the best in the country. I am really glad with where he is at."
It was a bright finish after a rough start. All six Panthers competing lost their first-round matches.
"I'm happy how guys responded," said head coach Doug Schwab. "We came back and won the last seven matches against high-level opponents. Guys played off each other, and that was good to see."
UNI topped teams like No. 8 Cornell, No. 16 Stanford, No. 24 Virginia and No. 25 Drexel.
"We talk about how they are going to be tested, and you find out what you're made of when things don't go your way," said Schwab. "They have resolve and heart. I am proud of that as a coach. You know that is going to carry over when other things don't go their way. We kept attacking and building leads."
133 pounds – Josh Alber – third place
- In Alber's first match of the day, he fired off a series shots late in the second and early in the third to draw a stall call on No. 10 Scott Parker. However, he was not able to hold off Parker, losing by fall in 6 minutes, 22 seconds.
- In the consolation semifinals, Alber erased Missouri's John Erneste's riding time and was able to tie up the score 2-2 with nearfall points just as the second period expired. Alber advanced, winning 5-3.
- It was a rematch for Alber and No. 10 Kevin Devoy of Drexel for the bronze medal. Alber was able to edge out Devoy in sudden victory on the first day of the tournament. Alber came out firing, getting a takedown early in the first and taking a 2-1 lead after the first. Devoy got the lead off the start of the second with a reversal, but an escape tied it up 3-3 for Alber. Alber had his own reversal off the start in the third to lead 5-4. He cut Devoy, closing the gap with more than a minute left in the match. Alber's takedown at the final whistle, gave him the win with a 7-4 decision.
149 pounds – No. 11 Max Thomsen – third place
- Thomsen fell behind early to No. 4 Lavion Mayes of Missouri, but he tied it up early in the second 2-2. An illegal hold against Thomsen pushed the score to 3-2. Another escape gave Mayes the 4-2 decision to send Thomsen to the consolations.
- In the consolation semifinals, Thomsen jumped out to a 3-2 lead and extended it with a final takedown in the third to beat No. 15 Matt Cimato of Drexel, 5-2.
- The bronze medal match was scoreless after the first period. Thomsen escaped early in the second to go up 1-0 on No. 7 Pat Lugo of Edinboro. Lugo scored off an early escape in the third to tie it up 1-1. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, Thomsen got the takedown that secured the 3-1 decision.
165 pounds – No. 14 Bryce Steiert – third place
- No. 4 Daniel Lewis jumped out to a 5-0 lead to start the third against Steiert at 165 pounds. Steiert got his first points with a takedown in the middle of the third period but fell, 7-2.
- In the consolation semifinals, it was Steiert with all the offense. A series of takedowns and riding time earned him a spot for the bronze match, beating Cole Walter of Lehigh, 8-3.
- After beating No. 9 Nick Wanzek in sudden victory earlier in the tournament, Steiert worked to build a bigger gap in the match for third place. Steiert picked up two takedowns in the first period to lead 4-2 and built 45 seconds in riding time heading into the second period. He held on to a 4-3 lead to start the third and picked up an early escape to go on to win 5-3. Wanzek is ranked in the 174-pound weight class.
184 pounds – No. 14 Drew Foster – sixth place
- No. 14 Foster erased riding time that No. 5 Nolan Boyd built up in the first period, but Foster trailed 7-2 when the third period started. Boyd went on to win 10-5. Foster took a medical forfeit in his final two matches to take sixth.
174 pounds – No. 10 Taylor Lujan – seventh place
- No. 10 Lujan dominated his opening match. He cut Ty Schoffstall (Edinboro) loose with about 40 seconds left and was able to grab a final takedown as the whistle blew. Riding time gave him the point he needed to secure a 13-5 major decision.
- Lujan had more of a challenge against No. 3 Casey Kent of Penn in the next round. Lujan was nearly pinned but worked his way out to get a reversal. Down 9-2, Lujan appeared to flip the match but wasn't able to score before the first period expired.
- He grabbed a takedown in the second but trailed 9-4 in the third. He cut Kent loose and grabbed a takedown to close the gap 10-6. Kent went on to win, 12-8.
- Lujan turned on the offense early racking up a 10-2 lead and just more than a minute of riding time after the first. He held on for a 16-9 decision over No. 18 Jadaen Bernstein (Navy) for seventh place. Bernstein is a two-time NCAA qualifier.