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Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Panthers wail on West Virginia

Cael Happel had a crucial win as he defeated #10 Jordan Titus.

The goal for the UNI wrestling team has remained the same for the entire year.

“We just gotta keep getting better,” UNI Wrestling Coach Doug Schwab said. “Guys are making progress and I think that’s the biggest thing.”

Sunday was definitely a step in the right direction as UNI picked up a big conference win against West Virginia, lifting them to 4-1 in Big 12 duals and 5-5 overall. The win improved UNI’s all time record vs the Mountaineers to 8-0. The #18 Panthers upset the #17  Mountaineers on Military Appreciation Day in the McLeod Center in front of 3,303 fans. The afternoon started off with Master Sgt. Henry Uribe performing the national anthem on his electric guitar. 

17th ranked Julian Farber took the mat for the Panthers at 133 lbs, competing against Mason Mills. The first period saw two quick takedowns from Farber as well as one from Mills, giving Farber a 7-5 lead. The second period was all Farber, scoring a takedown and a pair of four point turns, resulting in a 23-5 technical fall. Farber’s win gave the Panthers a 5-3 lead, and improved his record to 14-6 on the season. 

141 lbs was arguably the biggest match of the day, as it consisted of #7 Cael Happel for the Panthers and #10 Jordan Titus for the Mountaineers. Happel struck first, snatching a takedown in the opening period. A pair of escapes for Titus in the first and second period had the score at 3-2 going into the third period. That’s when Happel found an extra gear. The junior from Lisbon, Iowa took Titus down and earned four nearfall points in the process, giving him a comfortable lead and bonus points for the Panthers. Happel improved to 15-4 on the year with a 11-3 major decision win. Happel’s coach was very proud of the effort he displayed in such a big match. 

“You know when you can, in a top 10 matchup, get bonus points, that’s kudos to Happel.”

The last match before intermission featured UNI’s #11 Ryder Downey and West Virgina’s  Alex Hornfeck. Hornfeck earned the first points of the match, with an early takedown. Downey escaped and got a takedown of his own. But after further review, the call was reversed and Downey’s takedown was taken off the board. A Downey escape in the second period set up a 3-2 match going into the final period. In the third, Downey completed a takedown with 40 seconds remaining, catapulting him to a victory and giving the Panthers a 12-7 lead going into the break. 

174 lbs featured two ranked wrestlers in #27 Jared Simma and #15 Brody Conley. The match got off to a slow start, with neither wrestler scoring in the first period. An escape by each wrestler knotted the score up 1-1 midway through the third. Conley shot in and got a takedown with roughly 30 seconds left. Coach Schwab challenged the call but the challenge was unsuccessful, and the takedown stood. Then, the magic happened. With only 13 seconds remaining in the match, Simma got out for an escape and took Conley down, winning by a score of 5-4. The win also gave the Panthers a pivotal three points, jumping out to a 15-12 lead. 

The #1 wrestler in the country at 184 lbs, UNI’s Parker Keckeisen, showed why he owned that title in his match against #29 Dennis Robin. Keckeisen, the Big 12 Wrestler of the Week, collected five takedowns in the match. His 18-3 technical fall was his seventh tech fall of the season. He kept his undefeated record, improving to 19-0. 

Wyatt Voelker took the mat for the Panthers at 197 lbs, facing off against Austin Cooley. A match that started off slow saw Cooley hold a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. Voelker would collect eight unanswered points, earning an 8-1 decision, and locking up the dual win for the Panthers. 

The last match of the afternoon, at 285 lbs, included #15 Tyrell Gordon and Tristan Kemp. Gordon earned a one point escape in the second period. Kemp countered with an escape of his own in the third, forcing the match to overtime. Gordon took matters into his own hands, lunging in for a takedown and earning two nearfall points in the process. Gordon’s 6-1 decision made the final score 26-12 in favor of the Panthers. After the match, Coach Schwab had lots of praise for his heavyweight. 

“I have nothing but an immense amount of respect and love for that guy because you have no idea what he’s managing right now,” Schwab said. “It would be very easy for him to pack it in and be done for the year, because a lot of guys would.”

Despite their team coming up short-handed, Coach Schwab had a lot of positive things to say about the Mountaineers. 

“West Virginia has done a really good job. If you can’t recognize Tim Flynn and his staff and what they’ve started and what they’ve built, I’ve got a lot of respect for those guys.”

The team looks ahead to a busy week, featuring two road duals. The Panthers take a trip out west to California to take on Cal-Baptist on Friday, Feb. 9. The Lancers are fresh off their first win in program history over a ranked team, defeating #19 Air Force on Saturday, by a score of 21-15. Then, the Panthers make their way back to the Hawkeye State to face in-state rival Iowa State in Ames. Coach Schwab challenged fans to show up for the dual despite it being Super Bowl Sunday. 

“You have Iowa State and UNI wrestling in a dual in our state. They’ve got a top 5 team, they’ve wrestled really well, we are continuing to get better. The last few duals that we’ve had, everyone is left entertained so it won’t be any different on Sunday. I’m gonna challenge the state to get out and be there in full force because both teams deserve that, both teams have earned that right.”

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