Panthers place fourth at Cliff Keen Invite


Panther wrestling traveled to Las Vegas for the Cliff Keen Invite over the weekend, placing fourth overall out of 32 teams on Dec. 6-7. The Panthers had five medalists at the invite last year and head coach Doug Schwab calls it the “toughest in-season tournament.”

“We’ve used Vegas as kind of a marker to know where you’re at. It’s a big event,” Schwab said.  “Heck, we get to see some guys that we’re maybe not going to get to see until the national tournament.”

The Panthers ended day one of the invitational with 58 points for fourth, eight of nine wrestlers still alive and three advancing to the semifinals. Max Thomsen (149), Bryce Steiert (174) and Taylor Lujan (184) each went 3-0, securing their spots in the semis.

Thomsen scored an 11-3 major decision in the quarterfinals, followed by two more decisions. Steiert had a strong performance with a fall in his first round and a 12-1 major decision in the second. A close third round decision led him to the semis. Lujan also stole bonus points with a fall and major decision during his first two rounds. A 10-8 decision in his third match sent him to the semis.  According to Schwab, the team always has the bigger picture in mind throughout the season. 

“Any time that we can have multi-day weigh-ins, I think is really important and have a similar set up to a national tournament where you have some down time because it’s different,” Schwab said.  “We’re trying to simulate as much as we can of a national tournament/national event.”

Jay Schwarm went 3-1 on day one, adding bonus points each match. Michael Blockus and Keaton Geerts also went 3-1.

On day two of the invite, Steiert earned another major decision, making him the only Panther to advance to the finals. He fell 3-1 in the championship match to Purdue’s Dylan Lydyand, ultimately placing second for the Panthers. Lujan fell 8-4 in the semifinals, placing fourth. Six other Panthers placed and the team finished with 94 points.

Next, the Panthers will compete at home in the warmth of the West Gym on Saturday, Dec. 14 for the UNI open.