Northern Iowa, two in Hunt for Title, four Still Alive in Consolations

By Michelle Van Dorn, UNI Sports Information
Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) won by decision over Laike Gardner (Lehigh) (Dec 6-4)

Max Thomsen (Northern Iowa) won by decision over Laike Gardner (Lehigh) (Dec 6-4)

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Two Panthers are still alive for an NCAA title at the national wrestling tournament, while four more are still in the hunt for third place.

The team was tied for 16th place after the first day.

Max Thomsen at 149 pounds and Drew Foster at 184 pounds are making the most of their national debut with two wins on the championship side of the bracket.

Foster avenged a loss to Virginia Tech's No. 5 Zack Zavatsky with a 4-3 decision.

"I am really ecstatic, but I'm not done," said Foster "It's just one win. So basically, I take the five seed and keep climbing."

He will have the chance to avenge another loss when he faces No. 5 Nolan Boyd of Oklahoma State. Boyd beat Foster, 10-5 before Foster was forced to sit out the rest of the tournament due to injury during that match.

"I think he is competing as well as I have ever seen him compete," said head coach Doug Schwab. "It's a testament to him and what he has done and the work he has put in. I am excited for that match tomorrow."

Thomsen faced two opponents he had beaten earlier in the season.

"He's attacking in big situations," said Schwab.

He will face No. 15 Ken Theobold of Rutgers tomorrow. Theobold beat Thomsen 8-1 last year at Midlands when Thomsen competed unattached as a true freshman.

"Right now is the big dance, and when you're wrestling upperclassmen, you know, this is some of their last chances at this tournament," said Thomsen. "So they are coming at me hard, and I just need to keep on wrestling."

Two-time All-American Dylan Peters (125 pounds) lost his first-round match to No. 4 Darian Cruz of Lehigh before bouncing back with two wins, including one that bumped Barlow McGhee of Missouri out of the tournament. McGhee beat Peters mid-February.

Peters was down 6-0 before taking down Sean Nickell of Bakersfield with an 8-7 decision to stay alive.

"He is fighting through it," said Schwab. "You get down 6-0 in that match and it's easy to bag it. How many guys got pinned this round? Guys were bagging it left and right. To have him have that kind of guts and fight, that's the kind of kid he is. That's why I am so proud of him and how he is fighting for this team."

Peters has the chance to be UNI's 10th Panther to earn three Division I All-America honors. He faces Buffalo's Kyle Akins Friday.

After a first-round win by fall, Josh Alber fell to the 133-pound consolations with a 5-2 loss to No. 5 Stevan Micic. It will be a MAC Championship rematch for Alber, as he will face No. 23 Corey Keener of Central Michigan. Alber beat Keener 9-2 for third place at the MAC.

Bryce Steiert had a first-round win but was bumped to consolations by 165-pound MAC champion Daniel Lewis, who won 6-0. He will face Cole Walter of Lehigh, whom he beat 8-3 at the Southern Scuffle earlier this year.

At 174 pounds, Taylor Lujan looked to avenge a loss to No. 4 Zach Epperly of Virginia Tech, but Epperly edged him out, 5-2.