Keckeisen secures runner-up finish at NCAAs



Parker Keckeisen capped off another outstanding season with the best finish of his career, finishing as the national runner-up at 184 pounds.

DREW HILL, Opinion Columnist

After a good start for the UNI wrestling team, with each of the seven wrestlers who made the NCAA Championships winning their first match, six fell in their second match and went to consolation brackets. Parker Keckeisen, though, made it all the way to the 184-pound championship as the one-seed before falling to two-time defending NCAA champion three-seed Aaron Brooks of Penn State.

Keckeisen had finished third in the previous two years, so grabbing silver gave him a new best finish. He also now holds three of the top 10 seasons by winning percentage ever for UNI and is the three-time defending Big 12 champion at 184 pounds.

“Parker set the bar incredibly high. The consistency that he comes in with, what he’s done and will continue to do isn’t going to change. He loves the process and he loves the sport even when it tears your heart out. It’s still something that you’re grateful for,” said Head Coach Doug Schwab.

Keckeisen started off his run with a 12-3 major decision win over Anthony Carmen of Maryland. He followed it up with a 4-2 decision over Tate Samuelson of Lehigh, a 3-2 decision over Isaiah Salazar of Minnesota and a 4-1 decision over Trey Munoz of Minnesota. He eventually fell to Brooks 7-2 in the championship to finish with a 4-1 record.

The other six UNI Panthers who made the NCAA Championships all won their first matches to give UNI a spotless 7-0 record in round one. However, the other wrestlers besides Keckeisen dropped their second matches to fall to consolation brackets.

In the 133-pound bracket, Kyle Biscoglia won by pinning his opponent in 6:02. However, he then dropped an 8-4 decision to eventual fourth-place finisher Dalton Fix of Oklahoma State. He won two matchups in the consolation bracket with 6-1 and 7-4 decisions, but finally lost 7-1 to finish with a 3-2 record.

In the 141-pound bracket, Cael Happel won his first match in a 3-2 decision but lost a 1-0 decision in his second. He followed it up with a 10-5 decision win and a 7-3 decision loss to finish with a 2-2 record. In the 149-pound bracket, Colin Realbuto won his first match in a 9-3 decision but lost his next two in a 9-2 decision to eventual runner-up Sammy Sasso of Ohio State and a 10-7 decision to finish 1-2. At 157 pounds, Derek Holschlag began with a 4-3 decision win, but dropped two in a row in a 6-2 decision loss and a 17-9 major decision loss to finish 1-2.

Austin Yant started with an 8-1 decision win at 165 pounds. He dropped a 15-4 major decision to eventual runner-up David Carr of Iowa State. He started off his run in the consolation bracket with a 10-5 decision win and a 10-0 major decision win, but finally fell in a 10-2 major decision to finish 3-2. Finally, in the 285-pound bracket, Tyrell Gordon won a 2-1 decision to start his run, but lost a 9-0 major decision to eventual fourth-place finisher Tony Cassioppi of Iowa. He then won a 6-1 decision before falling in a narrow 2-1 decision to finish 2-2.

UNI as a team finished in a tie for 16th with Wisconsin. They finished with 29 points, 1.5 points behind Minnesota for 15 and 0.5 points ahead of Air Force and Oklahoma State in 18th. Penn State won the team title with 137.5 points.

With only two of the seven qualifiers listed as seniors, UNI will look forward to bringing back a large portion of their team with the potential to build off valuable experience in the 2023 NCAA Championships next season.