Unbeaten no more: Panthers shock 3rd-ranked Cowboys at Stillwater

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TONI FORTMANN

The Panther Train upset their Big 12 rivals Oklahoma State on Saturday, taking down the Cowboys on their home turf in Stillwater, OK.

DAVID WARRINGTON

It’s been said that it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The UNI wrestling team was a testament to that on Saturday night. Trailing 12-0 through four matches, the Panthers bounced back to win five of the last six and shock the third-ranked and previously unbeaten Oklahoma State Cowboys at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla, 19-15.

Derek Holschlag and Austin Yant got the momentum going for the Panthers, picking up decision wins by scores of 3-2 and 2-0, respectively. It was Lance Runyon who completely turned the tide for UNI. Facing off against the seventh-ranked wrestler in the nation at 174 lbs, Dustin Plott, Runyon pulled off the upset by pinning Plott midway through the second period, giving the Panthers six crucial points. This tied things up at 12 apiece and gave UNI all of the momentum.

Next up was a top 10 matchup at 184 lbs, with fourth-ranked Parker Keckeisen taking on ninth-ranked Dakota Geer. Despite both being ranked in the top 10, this match was not close, as Keckeisen controlled things throughout en route to a 12-3 major decision victory, giving the Panthers their first lead of the night at 16-12.

The Cowboys ended their skid at 197 lbs when Gavin Sitka took down John Gunderson 4-1, getting within a point at 16-15 and making the final match for all of the marbles.

Tyrell Gordon came through in the clutch for UNI, winning his 285 lb heavyweight match against Luke Surber by decision, 2-0. Further drama would ensue as John Smith, head coach for the Cowboys, challenged the ruling, believing that Surber had gotten a takedown in the closing seconds that would’ve tied the match. However, the referees stuck with the original call, and UNI got the win, 19-15.

With the victory the Panthers improve to 4-5 on the season and 3-2 in Big 12 competition while picking up some major momentum for the rest of their campaign. UNI will stay in the state of Oklahoma, taking on the 21st-ranked Sooners of the University of Oklahoma on Sunday, Jan. 30. The Panthers will then return home to the West Gym to take on Air Force on Friday, Feb. 4.