Panthers finish fifth, Teske and Keckeisen win conference titles

This past weekend the Panthers wrestled in the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship.

DAVID WARRINGTON

On Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7, the UNI Panthers wrestling team competed at the 2021 Big 12 Wrestling Championship at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla. In the team standings, the Panthers finished fifth out of the 12 teams competing. Two Panthers, Brody Teske and Parker Keckeisen, also managed to take home Big 12 conference championships in their respective weight classes.

At 125 lbs, Teske, a redshirt sophomore, entered the championships as the number one seed in the bracket while only having one loss on the season. After breezing through the first two rounds with victories by tech fall and major decision, Teske defeated South Dakota State’s Danny Vega in the semifinals. After a competitive match, Teske came out with an 8-6 decision victory, earning the right to compete in the championship match.

In the championship, Teske faced off against Utah Valley’s Taylor LaMont, the second seed in the bracket. Teske fell behind early, trailing 4-0 within the opening minute. However, he bounced back and took his first lead with an escape early in the third period. After LaMont scored a takedown to regain the lead, 7-6, Teske answered with just 30 seconds remaining with a takedown of his own. A ridetime point added to his total, and Teske took the victory by decision, 9-7. This is Teske’s first conference championship of his career.

In the 184 lb category, Keckeisen also entered as the number one seed in his bracket, while also coming in with an undefeated record on the season. Given that he is a freshman, Keckeisen also entered with an undefeated record for his career. In the opening round Keckeisen held off the upset-minded Jacob Armstrong of Utah Valley, winning in a 5-3 decision. A medical forfeit in the quarterfinals sent him straight to the semis, where he managed a 7-2 decision victory.

In the championship match, taking on Wyoming’s Tate Samuelson, Keckeisen went on the attack early, picking up a takedown just seconds into the match.  Later in the second period, Keckeisen managed another takedown to take a 5-1 advantage. Samuelson scored two escapes in the third period to make it closer, but Keckeisen managed to hold him off and come away with a 5-3 decision victory, capping off his first season in the purple and gold with a conference championship.

This is the fourth consecutive year that a UNI Panther has won the conference title at 184 lbs, with Drew Foster winning in 2018 and 2019, while Taylor Lujan took the title in 2020.

Four other Panthers managed to finish in the top eight of their brackets. At 149 lbs, Triston Lara managed a fifth-place finish, as did Austin Yant at 174 lbs.

Yant had only wrestled one match this season before this weekend, but still put together a strong performance. Carter Isley managed sixth place in the 285 lb heavyweight category, while Cayd Lara finished eighth at 157 lbs.

Teske, Keckeisen, Triston Lara and Yant have all qualified for the NCAA Wrestling Championships, which will take place Thursday, March 18- Saturday, March 20 in St. Louis, Mo. Whether UNI as a team will earn one of the at-large bids to the national championships will be announced on March 10 at 5 p.m., making it unknown as of press time.