Wrestling competes at Big 12 Championships

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Wrestling competes at Big 12 Championships

ELLY FLENKER

ELLY FLENKER

ELLY FLENKER

JACOB POTTER, Sports Writer

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Bolstering an impressive ranking of 14th in the country, UNI wrestling was strongly represented at the Big 12 Championships, with seven Panthers notching a seed and ten total wrestlers grappling on the big stage.

Prior to the championships, Head Coach Doug Schwab previewed the weekend, “Looking forward to Big 12’s, team [is] ready, had a good week of training. Now it’s really [about] not changing too much, just going out and letting in fly.  Go out and compete man.  I don’t think, there’s probably nothing in their life that they’ve put more time into. So, you should be prepared and ready.”

The purple and gold were well-prepared and ready to roll resulting in Jay Schwarm (125), Bryce Steiert (165), Taylor Lujan (174) and Drew Foster (184) all advancing to the semi-finals, with Lujan and Foster advancing to the finals.

Schwarm and Steiert were bumped from the semifinals to the consolations after both lost to no. 2 seeds.

Schwarm pinned three of his opponents to move up to no. 7 on the all-time career pins list in UNI history dating back to 1923. The junior wrestler now has 33 pins in his career.

Schwarm finished 3-2 in the 125-pound weight class.

Steiert finished 3-1 for a third-place bronze medal in the 165-pound weight class earning his first Big 12 medal.

No. 1 seed Josh Alber finished 4-1 after losing his first match to Chris Sandoval (University of North Carolina). 

The senior wrestler started a new winning streak, closing out the tournament with four wins after Sandoval ended Alber’s 15-match win streak. Alber finished in third place in the 141-pound weight class for a bronze medal.

Both ranked seventh in their respective weight classes, Lujan (174 pounds) and Foster (184 pounds) are both looking to bring home back-to-back Big 12 individual championships.

Coming in as the underdog, No. 3 seed Lujan will take on the No.1 seed, Jacobe Smith (Oklahoma State), to determine who will be crowned the champion of the 174-pound weight class.

Foster (No.2 seed) will also confront a No. 1 seed, Sam Colbray (Iowa State), in a battle of Cyclones and Panthers. The match will decide who takes home the title at the 184-pound weight class.

Lujan and Foster look to represent the purple and gold strongly as reigning champions.

After day one, the Panthers are in third place as a team with 62.5 points behind 15th-ranked Iowa State (92.5 points) and second-ranked Oklahoma State (129.5 points).

A different kind of March Madness awaits as the NCAA Wrestling Championships are just around the corner. They  will take place Thursday through Saturday, March 21-23 in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Six Panthers (Jay Schwarm, Josh Alber, Max Thomsen, Bryce Steiert, Taylor Lujan, and Drew Foster) will take center stage under some of the brightest lights in college wrestling.

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