UNI wrestles at Cliff Keen Invite in Vegas

FRANK WALSH, Sports Writer

The Panther wrestling team pounced on the opportunity to compete in Las Vegas, Nev. last weekend at the Cliff Keen Invite.

UNI competed against several like-ranked teams in the NCAA, including Ohio State, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota and Purdue. 

The 17th ranked Panthers were able to fight their way to a team score of 84.5 points and place fourth in the high caliber tournament.

Ohio State was able to walk away with the team victory, garnering a total of 148 points for their team score. The Buckeyes are ranked second nationally.

The purple and gold were well represented on the Las Vegas medal stand, as five Panthers earned top seven finishes.

Taylor Lujan, a redshirt junior from Carrollton, Ga., was a pinning machine and was able to pick up three falls leading up to an astonishing third place finish at the tournament.

Lujan only took one loss in the entirety of the tournament, falling to Missouri’s Daniel Lewis in the semi-finals. Following the loss, Lujan was able to return to his winning ways to earn the third-place medal.

The senior captain, Drew Foster was able to pick up a third-place finish as well, with five wins against some of the nation’s top-level grapplers.

Foster was able to get a pin against Lou Deprez of Binghamton in just over a minute and a half into the match. Foster also competed against Taylor Venz from the University of Nebraska, but lost the match 11-8. The senior was able to bounce back from the semi-finals loss, bringing a bronze medal home to Cedar Falls.

The next best finish for the Panthers was Josh Alber at 141 pounds, who placed fifth.

  The returning three-time NCAA qualifier was able to grab a victory right off the bat, grappling his way to a pin against Taylor Ort of Clarion. Alber went on to lose to Joey McKenna from the Ohio State and Kanen Storr from Michigan. Other UNI wrestlers to place at this tournament included Max Thomsen and Bryce Steiert.

Coming up, the Panthers will compete at the UNI Open on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m.