Young Panther wrestlers compete at Dubuque

Paul Noble, Guest Writer

The future of UNI wrestling is in good hands. This past Saturday, a trio of freshman wrestlers traveled to Dubuque for the Flanagan Open, and they didn’t disappoint. The Panthers captured two titles and a runner-up finish along the way. Trevor Anderson was victorious at 125 pounds, Ryder Downey took home a gold medal at 149 pounds and Cory Land finished runner-up at 133.

At 125, Anderson was dominant, pinning his first opponent, Konstantinos Papadopoulous, in a mere 1:15. Anderson next pinned Loras’ Wiley Jessup in the semifinals in 2:10 while continuing his dominance in the finals with a 6-0 victory over Luc Valdez from UW-Oshkosh.

At 133, Land also found success. Land eased his way through the first couple of matches. Land pinned Justin Bradford of Indian Hills in the first match and won handily 8-2 in the semifinals. In the finals, Land faced Drake Ayala of Iowa. Land fell to Ayala 7-2 in the finals, but this is nothing to scoff at as the Iowa Hawkeyes are the 2nd-ranked wrestling team in the country and have one of the deepest rosters.

In the 149 bracket, Ryder Downey proved his worth. Downey opened up with a tech fall against Patrick Campbell of Indian Hills before pinning his way through the quarters. In the semis, Downey won via tech fall 17-1 against Quinten Aney of Iowa Wesleyan. In the championship match, Downey faced Joel Jesuroga. This wasn’t the first time these two wrestlers had met each other. Downey pulled off a 4-3 decision victory against Jesuroga at last year’s Iowa State Wrestling Tournament in the 3A semifinals en route to his first state championship. It didn’t come easy this time, as he narrowly escaped with a 2-1 victory.

The Panthers will next face Cal Baptist this Friday, Feb. 3, before entering a February Gauntlet, in which they’ll face two top-15 teams. They’ll take on 3rd-ranked Iowa State in the McLeod Center on senior day, Feb. 10, and the 15th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Feb. 18, before heading to the Big 12 Championships on March 4.