“We want to have the opportunity to be in front of a home crowd,” said head coach Doug Schwab. “Last year, we lost some dates when we switched conferences. I like our home schedule. I like our schedule overall. There are some other teams I would like to see included, and we will continue to work on those and get top 10 teams in the West Gym.”
The Panthers return one All-American and two other NCAA national qualifiers with Ryan Loder, Joey Lazor and Levi Wolfensperger. The trio combined with David Bonin to lead the team to its highest finish since 2005, placing 15th. Bonin, who graduated, and Loder became Schwab’s first All-Americans since he was hired as UNI’s head coach for the 2010-11 season. Schwab is entering his fourth season with the Panthers.
JOINING THE MAC
The University of Northern Iowa wrestling team will implement its first full Mid-American Conference schedule. Last year, UNI and Missouri competed in the MAC championships but did not wrestle a complete MAC schedule. The addition of Old Dominion this year will round out the nine-team conference.
“Each season, four of the home duals are set by the MAC, and hopefully we will continue to be able to fill other dates with Big 10 teams.”
The Panthers took third at the 2013 MAC Championships. Central Michigan settled for second when Missouri ended the Chippewas’ 11-year run as conference champions. Both teams are on UNI’s home schedule.
“We want to make sure we are prepared for the MAC and ultimately nationals. Those high-end teams make us ready so we can rise to the occasion.”
UNI will head to Las Vegas, Nev., for the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nev. Medal winners Ryan Loder, Levi Wolfensperger and Cody Caldwell all return this year to help improve on last year’s eighth-place finish.
“We will be going back to some of those premier tournaments like Midlands and the Las Vegas invite,” Schwab said. “I like how they were run. They do a great job, and it’s good for our guys to get that competition early on and be able to make a name for themselves.”
The team placed 13th at Midlands last year. Both Panthers who medaled will return. Loder took fourth at 184 pounds, and Joey Lazor was seventh at 141 pounds.
Wisconsin will visit Cedar Falls early in the season, and the UNI Open will break up a long stretch on the road. However, the Panthers will end their regular season with the bulk of competitions at home, including a matchup with Iowa State Feb. 7.
“We want people to get used to coming to the West Gym. We want to make it an environment they are excited about, and I think we can do that.”
SCHEDULE (with team’s place at last year’s national meet)
- NOV. 16 –@ Cobber Open, Moorhead, Minn., 9 a.m.
- NOV. 23 –@ Northern Illinois (T 41st) * & North Dakota State (30th), 10 a.m.
- NOV. 30 –Wisconsin (T 27th), 7 p.m.
- DEC. 6-7 – Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invite
- DEC. 14 –UNI Open, 9 a.m.
- DEC. 29-30 – Midlands Championships
- JAN. 4 –@ Buffalo (T 57th) *, 1 p.m.
- JAN. 5 –@Eastern Michigan (T 41st) *, 1 p.m.
- JAN. 11 –Central Michigan (18th) *, 7 p.m.
- JAN. 19 – @ Oklahoma (12th), 2 p.m.
- JAN. 24 – Missouri (7th) *, 7 p.m.
- FEB. 1 – Ohio (29th) * & South Dakota State (T 66th), noon
- FEB. 7 – Iowa State (11th), 7 p.m.
- FEB. 9 – Kent State (24th) *, 1 p.m.
- FEB. 16 – Purdue (31st), 2 p.m.
- FEB. 23 – @ Old Dominion (T 60th) *, 1 p.m.
- MARCH 8-9 – @ MAC Championships*; Kent, Ohio
- MARCH 20-22 – NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships; Oklahoma City, Okla.
* MAC team