Keckeisen earns third conference crown

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  • Parker Keckeisen has his hand raised in victory. Keckeisen captured a third straight Big 12 Championship over the weekend, and will enter the NCAA Championships with a 22-1 record on the season.

  • Parker Keckeisen stands atop the podium after claiming the Big 12 Conference Championship in the 184 pound weight class, his third consecutive conference title.

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BEN LAHART, Sports Writer

The UNI Panthers wrestling team competed at the Big 12 Championships in Tulsa, Okla. this past weekend, March 4 and 5. UNI competed well with one champion as well as four other medalists and finished seventh overall. 

Parker Keckeisen became the first Panther to win three straight Big 12 championships with his title in the 184 pound weight class. He went 4-0 in his bracket with the last three wins all coming against ranked opponents.

Keckeisen started off the tournament with two dominant wins over Wyoming’s Quayin Short and eighth-seeded Anthony Carman from West Virginia. A close victory over 25th-ranked Colton Hawks out of Missouri put him in the championship match against in-state rival Marcus Coleman from Iowa State. A 6-2 decision gave Keckeisen the title. This continued UNI’s run of dominance at 184 pounds. A Panther has won the conference championship in that weight class every year since joining the Big 12 as an affiliate member in 2018.

UNI also had two fourth place finishers, Kyle Biscoglia at 133 pounds, and Tyrell Gordon at 285 pounds. Biscoglia wrestled as the two-seed in his bracket but suffered a second round loss to third-seeded Zach Redding out of Iowa State. Another win and loss and he finished 2-2 for the weekend. 

Gordon entered the championships seeded seventh in the 285 pound weight class. He went 4-2 losing to the two-seed before beating both the sixth and fourth-seeded wrestlers. Gordon ultimately lost to third-seeded Zach Elam out of Missouri.

The Panthers also had two fifth-place finishers, Colin Realbuto at 149 pounds and Austin Yant at 165 pounds. Realbuto won his first two matches before losing to the eventual champion Paniro Johnson of Iowa State. Realbuto went 1-1 in his final two matches to finish fifth.

Yant won his first match before also falling to the future champion from Iowa State, David Carr. He went 2-1 over the next three matches before a forfeit in his last match earned him fifth place.

The Panthers had five other wrestlers compete at the Big 12 Championships that did not place. Kyle Gollhofer wrestled in the 125 pound weight class but lost to the third and fifth place finishers. In the 141 pound class, Cael Happel lost to the second and fourth place wrestlers. 

Derek Holshlag competed in the 157 pound class and finished with a 1-2 record on the weekend. Finally, Lance Runyon wrestled at 174 pounds but after winning his first match, lost to eventual champion, Dustin Plott from Oklahoma State, finishing 1-2. Noah Glaser wrestled at 197 pounds but went 0-2 in his bracket.

As a team, UNI finished with 73 points, good enough for seventh place out of 13 teams. Missouri was crowned as the team champion for the second year in a row with 148 points, followed by Oklahoma State with 134 and Iowa State with 131. 

UNI has seven qualifiers for the NCAA Championships, Keckeisen, Yant, Gordon, Biscoglia, Realbuto, Happel and Holschlag. The NCAA Championships, also taking place in Tulsa, will be held from March 16-18.