Semester recap: White House visit, HOF, playoff runs and more

JACOB POTTER, Sports Editor

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The 2019 fall semester has been one to remember for UNI Athletics with Drew Foster visiting the White House, a historic Hall of Fame ceremony, a quarterfinal Panther football team, NCAA Tournament berth for UNI volleyball, 9-1 start for men’s basketball, 6-3 women’s basketball team and much more. 

“What’s important this early in the season is what we’re doing as a Panther family,” men’s basketball head coach Ben Jacobson said.

The semester started with a near upset of No. 21 Iowa State by Panther football, followed by the 2019 UNI Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony that inducted the 2009-10 Sweet 16 team.  The success across all sports continued as Jessica Heims won gold for track and field in Peru.

Football

The semester started with the Panther football taking the then No. 21 Iowa State Cyclones wire-to-wire in a 29-26 overtime thriller.  Although the Panthers fell short, they moved on to an 8-4 regular season record, followed by taking down No. 10 South Dakota State to move to the quarterfinals.  After grinding out a 13-10 upset over the Jackrabbits, UNI has a showdown with No. 2 James Madison set for Friday night on ESPN2 with the possibility of rain in the forecast.

“Let it rain, we’ve dealt with seeds [not receiving a seed], we’ve dealt with snow, so let it rain,” head coach Mark Farley said.  “We’re all having fun just to be here.”

Volleyball

After a slow start, Panther volleyball heated up for a final record of 24-11 and 17-1 in conference play.  Following hosting the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, the Panther women received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  The Panthers received the coveted opportunity to compete on one of the biggest stages, but ultimately fell to the University of Missouri. 

Nonetheless, the 2019 season was one for the record books with head coach Bobbi Petersen elapsing 500 career wins, and becoming the all-time wins leader in UNI volleyball history, passing her former coach Iradge Ahrabi-Fard’s record of 503 wins.

Men’s basketball

The 2019-20 Panthers are off to a hot start at 9-1 after recently taking down No. 23 Colorado 79-76 on the road.   

For their upset and 9-1 record, the Panthers were on Sportscenter and cracked college basketball analyst Jeff Goodman’s top 25 ranking, coming in at No. 25.

The Panthers continue this memorable season after visiting the Colosseum in Rome this summer, playing in Cancun recently and taking down a top 25 team.   

Women’s basketball

The Panther women got off to a 5-0 start after a big 78-73 road win against Missouri and an 88-66 rout of the Iowa Hawkeyes.  The Panthers now sit at 6-3 after playing in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving and recently dominating Omaha 81-45.

Wrestling

After crowning their first national champion since 2001 in Drew Foster, the “Panther Train” is looking to win a team title this season.  Seeing Foster become one of 10 national champions and visiting the White House for his historic achievement serves as valiant motivation for the 2019-20 Panthers.

Looking forward, Panther football looks to make it to the FCS semi-finals, No. 13 UNI wrestling seeks another strong season, along with Arch and March Madness on the horizon for both UNI basketball programs and much more.