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Panthers Headed to Dubuque for Flash Flanagan Open
Courtesy: UNI Athletics Communications  
Release: Wednesday 01/18/2012

UNI wrestlers will compete at the Pat “Flash” Flanagan Open Saturday. The competition takes place at the Graber Sports Center on the campus of Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. Panther wrestlers have competed at two opens in Dubuque so far this season and have brought home five individual championships each time.


Northern Iowa defeated Big Ten opponent Wisconsin Jan. 13, 25-15. The win broke a nine-dual winless streak against the Badgers that has spanned the past nine seasons.

The Panthers dug Wisconsin into a hole early, and the Badgers never recovered. Senior Cruse Aarhus (125) made a statement in the night's opening match, topping UW's Austin Hietpas with a 17-2 technical fall. Joe Colon (133) gave UNI five more early points, as he also defeated his opponent, Shane McQuade, with a 17-2 tech. fall. UNI racked up even more bonus points in the night's third match, as redshirt freshman Levi Wolfensperger (141) defeated Thomas Glenn with a 9-0 major decision. After Wolfensperger's victory, the Panthers found themselves up 14-0.

From that point, it was tough for Wisconsin to recover, as the Panthers even held the three out of the four matches that they lost to regular decisions. Meanwhile, David Bonin (157) and Ryan Loder (184) both compiled major decisions, and Blayne Beale (285) won by decision.


Panther wrestlers will become quite familiar with the city of Dubuque, Iowa, before the season is over. This weekend marks the third open tournament to which UNI has sent competitors. And, like the West Gym, Dubuque has been a friendly confines for the Panthers. UNI earned championship titles in one out of every two weight class brackets during the Loras and Jim Fox Opens.

This weekend will not be the last time that UNI wrestling will be represented in Dubque this season, either. Select wrestlers will compete at the Duhawk Open Feb. 4.

UNI commenced home dual competition at the West Gym with a 22-16 comeback victory over Northern Colorado. Since that dual, the Panthers have improved their home record to a perfect 3-0, with wins over Air Force and Wisconsin. Before UNI had an opportunity to host a dual meet, they were being outscored 118-28. However, in their last three duals, the Panthers have done the outscoring, riding a three-dual win streak with a 80-43 scoring advantage.

The Panthers’ 25-15 victory over Wisconsin Jan. 13 was their first win over a Big Ten school since last season’s national duals, when UNI edged Ohio State, 20-19. From 2002 to 2010, the Panthers went a combined 2-24-1 versus The Big Ten. UNI has improved against college wrestling’s most competitive conference in recent years, however, winning one dual against a Big Ten opponent each of the past three seasons.

UNI’s Ryan Loder (184), rated No. 6 in the latest InterMat rankings, has one of his weight class’ best records at 23-1. He is also the highest-rated underclassmen at 184. Loder has one win over a fellow ranked opponent, Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett, who was 184-pound’s No. 9 wrestler at the time. 

The Western Wrestling Conference has five completed seasons to its name. UNI has captured the WWC dual title four times. Last season, the Panthers finished with a 5-0 conference record. A 19-13 victory over No. 24-ranked Wyoming in their final regular season dual secured the conference championship.

Panther wrestling’s first-year competitors have gotten plenty of experience at the college level so far this season. Nine of UNI’s eleven true freshmen have wrestled in at least fifteen matches thus far. 

Many have experienced much success too. Eight Panther freshmen have finished in the top three of an open tournament at least once. All of those eight also have a first place finish at an open competition.

The Panthers recently signed five recruits, who will begin their UNI careers next season.

Dylan Peters, 120 (Denver, Iowa/Denver)
Ranked 7th nationally in his weight class, Peters is a three-time Class 2A state finalist and a two-time state champ. He also placed third at the USA Junior Nationals last year.

Zach Witte, 145/52 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Prairie)
Witte is ranked No. 10 nationally at 152 pounds. He placed second at state as a freshman and was an undefeated state champion last season (Class 4A).

Curt Maas, 152 (Medford, Minn./Medford)
Maas was a state tournament qualifier as an 8th grader, placed second at state as a freshman, then proceeded to repeat as state champion his sophomore and junior seasons.

Cooper Moore, 160/70 (Jackson, Minn./Central)
Moore placed fourth at state as a freshman and earned a state championship his sophomore season. He is currently ranked No. 11 nationally as a 170-pounder.

Jared Bartel, 195 (Mason City, Iowa/Mason City)
Bartel placed second at state as a junior and recently won his weight class title at the USA Pre-Season Nationals.

Two NCAA Championship qualifiers return to the Panther lineup this season. Redshirt sophomore Ryan Loder (184) was one win away from achieving All-American status. Meanwhile, junior David Bonin (157) bowed out in the third round of consolation matches.

This year’s Panther squad features many new faces. Of the 28 wrestlers on the preseason roster, 15 are true freshmen or first-year transfers. Notable recruits include JuCo National Champion Joe Colon (133), who transferred from Iowa Central, as well as Iowa’s 2011 “Mr. Wrestler” and Waverly native, Cody Caldwell (174).

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