Special from Panther Mania
CEDAR FALLS — An electric, sold-out crowd of 2,100 deserved an electric finish.
The caboose gave them one.
When Northern Iowa head coach Doug Schwab recruited Carter Isley to Cedar Falls, he told him he was going to be the caboose of the Panther Train.
Thursday night, Isley delivered.
Scoring a takedown 18 seconds into sudden victory, Isley’s 3-1 decision over Iowa State’s Gannon Gremmel at 285 capped a 22-13 Panther victory over the Cyclones at the West Gym, sending out four seniors with a win.
The win for Isley boosted his record to 10-6. The two-time Albia state champion has battled injuries all season and has put together a string of victories after getting healed up.
The victory was UNI’s third straight in the series, the first time the Panthers have done that since they won 11 in a row from 1940-52. It also means UNI will finish alone in second in the Big 12 Conference.
“He is our closer,” UNI head coach Doug Schwab said of Isley. “I remember when we got him committed, I said the caboose, and that guy finishes things up.”
UNI led the dual 19-13 heading into Isley’s match. Gremmel could have lifted ISU to victory with a pin. But after strong rides by both
wrestlers, Isley executed a perfect takedown seconds into the extra period to the delight of the capacity crowd.
“I was screaming and I couldn’t hear myself,” UNI 174-pound junior Taylor Lujan said.
“Isley’s match was nuts,” said Josh Alber, one of the four Panther seniors honored. “The way he won takes so much heart to get ridden, then get your mind right to go ride a guy. That is unreal.”
After five matches, UNI led 9-8, but the dual turned heavily in the Panthers’ favor with bonus wins at 165 and 174.
Bryce Steiert dominated Logan Schumacher at 165 en route to a 16-1, 7-minute technical fall. Then at 174, Lujan ralled from a second-period deficit to build an 11-4 lead before locking up a cradle and pinning Cycllone Marcus Coleman.
“He took a little sloppy shot on my good leg to cradle, too, and it just happened,” Lujan said of the pin. “I told Roper (UNI assistant Lee) last week I want to pin this guy. I want to send these seniors out the right way.”
Jay Schwarm opened the dual with a 6-3 win over Alex Mackall before Iowa State took a 5-3 lead with a technical fall at 133.
Back-to-back top 15 showdowns then went in favor of the Panthers.
Heavy hands and head snaps prevailed for much of the first six minutes of seventh-ranked Josh Alber’s tilt with No. 12 Ian Parker. Then with 20 seconds left, Alber hit an outside single. Parker defended, but Alber continued to work and was awarded a takedown with two seconds left in the match.
It was Alber’s 15th consecutive win and his fourth over an opponent ranked 12th or better.
“Parker is a tough dude,” Alber said. “We have had close matches in the past. I have nothing but respect for that guy. I just had to do my thing, grind him down and I don’t know if I caught him a little overzealous or just really committed to an attack and it ended up working out.”
No. 10 Max Thomsen built a 7-2 lead before holding on for a 7-5 win over No. 13 Jarrett Degen at 149. Cyclone Chase Straw closed out the first half of the dual with a 9-4 win over Paden Moore, yet the Panthers were leading 9-8.
“Give credit to UNI, they were the better team tonight, there was no question about it,” Iowa State head coach Kevin Dresser said. “I looked at it on paper coming in and felt they had five All-Americans in the lineup, I think they are that good. Any time you wrestle a team that potentially has five All-Americans, you are going to be in for a tough night.”
ISU won four matches, including sophomore Sam Colbray’s upset over No. 6 Drew Foster, 8-5, at 184.
Both teams lost a team point during the 184-pound match for failure to control their own corners.
UNI is now off until the Big 12 Championships March 8-9.