Foster crowned NCAA champion


Coming in at 184 pounds, Drew Foster represented UNI triumphantly, becoming the first Panther to win a national wrestling championship since the year 2000.

“It means a bunch, but I can’t take all the credit at all,” said Foster. “I got teammates that I work out with, I got coaches that believe in me and help coach me. 

“Special shout-out to Randy Pugh. That guys believed in me since day one, been by my side, been in my ear. He was in my ear the whole match, and I owe that guy a lot.  I owe my teammates a lot, my family and all the support from the Panther Train. This is definitely bigger than me.  It’s the Panther Train.  That’s what this is.”

Exhilarated from witnessing Foster become a national champion, head coach Doug Schwab shared a moment to behold with Foster when both held two fists in the air as they looked at each other in an instance of jubilation.

“We talked about doing that for a long time, and he made it happen,” Schwab said. “So obviously, huge for him, huge for the program.  It’s a big deal.  There’s 10 of them a year, 10 guys, and he was one of them.”

Ranked ninth, Foster came into the title bout as the underdog going against number six, Max Dean, out of Cornell. Similar to two heavyweight boxers, Foster and Dean battled fiercely to be named the best in their weight class, with Foster coming out on top 6-4.

Foster also took down the number three seed, Zach Zavatsky, from Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals.

UNI finished the tournament in 14th as a team with 40.5 points—the best finish as a team under Schwab.

“The belief that we have in our guys, the time and effort that we put into our guys and the belief that our guys have; I’ll put it against any school out there,” Schwab said. 

“It doesn’t matter if their enrollment is bigger, their budget is bigger, so what?  Same thing with Foster, man.  So what you’re not a national champion, you didn’t come in nationally ranked? To me that’s the best answer. You kill your critics with success.”

Schwab added that Foster’s national title gives future UNI wrestlers an example to look towards.

“It’s that first domino that falls and then all of them fall,” Schwab said. “Same thing with getting that first national champion.  You get that first one and then the next guy. I mean 2020, there’s already guys talking about it.  That’s the way it should be and guys are excited.”