CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Northern Iowa’s Taylor Lujan locked up a cradle.
And then nearly blew the roof off the West Gym.
Lujan’s dramatic fall produced a thunderous roar from the sellout crowd of 2,100 screaming fans, boosting No. 17 UNI to a 22-13 college wrestling win over No. 11 Iowa State.
The eighth-ranked Lujan led 5-4 in a close battle with No. 21 Marcus Coleman at 174 pounds before the Panther junior took charge in the final period Thursday night.
UNI coach Doug Schwab leaped high into the air and pumped his right fist as the referee slapped the mat and the sea of purple-and-gold fans erupted.
“It was a close match and then Taylor really opened it up,” Schwab said. “Taylor closed the door and he closed it hard. Bonus points are huge in a dual like this. When you get a pin at 174 after getting a tech at 165, that creates energy and creates momentum for your team.”
Lujan’s win lifted the Panthers to a 20-8 lead with three bouts to go.
“I started a little slow, but he took a sloppy shot and I was able to lock up that cradle. You’re always looking for bonus points,” Lujan said. “I told (UNI assistant coach Lee Roper) all week I was going to pin that guy. I wanted to send the seniors out the right way and send them out with an exclamation point with a win against Iowa State.”
ISU came right back when No. 15 Sam Colbray knocked off No. 8 Drew Foster of UNI 8-4 at 184 pounds.
“We are starting to figure it out at 184,” ISU coach Kevin Dresser said. “That was a big win for us and a good sign for him to do that.”
Fifth-ranked Willie Miklus of Iowa State, a three-time All-American, downed UNI’s Tyrell Gordon 5-0 at 197 pounds.
That cut UNI’s lead to 19-13 entering the final match at heavyweight.
During the 197-pound match, each team was deducted a team point. Schwab and ISU assistant coach Derek St. John appeared to have words while having a heated exchange in front of the scorer’s table.
“I was just messing with him,” Northern Iowa coach Doug Schwab said. “I have a ton of respect for those guys, but when we compete, you know what, it’s tooth and nail. It’s a fight. It’s blood, because we’re fighting for our guys because we love our guys."
UNI’s Carter Isley then clinched the victory by scoring a double-leg takedown in overtime to defeat ISU’s Gannon Gremmel 2-0 at 285 pounds.
“I just told him ‘close it out, man.’ Carter’s our closer,” Schwab said. “He’s the guy who finishes things up. He really came through to ride him out in the third period and then hit a beautiful shot in overtime to win the match. He just kept swinging and kept working hard. It was a great way for us to close out the meet.”
UNI has now won the last three matchups with ISU, but the Cyclones clearly are much improved in Dresser’s second season.
“Give UNI credit, they were the better team tonight – no question about it,” Dresser said. “Coming into the dual, I felt like they had five All-Americans in their lineup – I think they are that good. Anytime you wrestle a team that potentially has five All-Americans you are going to be in for a tough night.
“We lost to a good team and made it too easy in a couple of places. Tonight was their night.”
The Panthers led 9-8 at the break after winning three of the first five bouts. No. 12 Bryce Steiert of UNI then charged out aggressively on his way to a 16-1 technical fall over Logan Schumacher of ISU at 165 pounds. Lujan's heroics followed at 174.
UNI’s Jay Schwarm struck right away in the first bout, spinning behind ISU’s Alex Mackall for a takedown in the opening seconds at 125 pounds.
Schwarm piled up nearly four minutes of riding time in earning a hard-fought 6-3 win.
Iowa State came right back when seventh-ranked Austin Gomez rolled to a technical fall over Northern Iowa’s Jack Skudlarczyk at 133 pounds. Gomez is an impressive young star with a huge arsenal of big moves.
UNI senior Josh Alber, wrestling for the final time at home, earned a dramatic, last-second 3-1 win over No. 12 Ian Parker of ISU at 141 pounds. The seventh-ranked Alber finished a double-leg shot for a takedown with two seconds left in the match as the boisterous Panther crowd erupted.
“Parker is a tough dude,” Alber said. “We have had close matches in the past. I have nothing but respect for that guy.”
No. 10 Max Thomsen of UNI came out strong with a takedown and tilt to lead 4-0 over No. 13 Jarrett Degen ISU. Thomsen won 7-4 to give his team a 9-5 lead after four matches.
ISU’s Chase Straw came out strong with three takedowns in the first two periods en route to a 9-4 win over UNI’s Paden Moore at 157 pounds.
Straw’s win cut UNI’s team to 9-8 heading into intermission.
ISU continues to make strides in its second year under Dresser.
“We’re definitely getting better and making a lot of improvement,” Dresser said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves after this dual. We just have to learn from it and keep getting better.”
The sellout crowd at the West Gym provided an incredible atmosphere for the Panthers on Thursday.
“Our crowd was great,” Schwab said. “They were really loud and they were into it. They definitely gave us a boost.”
“The crowd was unbelievable,” Lujan said. “I was screaming during Isley’s match and I couldn’t even hear myself because the fans were so loud. They were awesome, just awesome.”