AMES, IOWA - The University of Northern Iowa (7-6) fell short of defeating No. 23 Virginia Tech (8-4) in the first round of the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals Regional. UNI's Joe Colon upset the nation's No. 1-ranked wrestler at 133 pounds, but the Hokies ended up with the team victory, winning by a score of 20-17.
The Panthers scored two key victories early. At 125 pounds, senior Cruse Aarhus defeated the Hokies' Ty Mitch with a 7-4 decision. The win snapped Aarhus' four-match losing streak.
The very next match paired UNI's Colon, ranked No. 11 at 133, with the weight class' top wrestler, Devin Carter. Colon was aggressive early, landing a takedown and a three-point near fall in the first period. The redshirt sophomore scored another three-point near fall in the second period and eventually went on to win with a 13-3 major decision over No. 1 Carter. UNI found itself up 7-0.
The Hokies would recover, winning the next two matches at 141 and 149 pounds. UNI's Levi Wolfensperger (141) fell to No. 20 Zach Neibert by a 10-2 major decision. Virginia Tech's Nick Brascetta (149) followed with a 3-0 decision over Ryan Jauch. Jauch saw his first action since the Flash Flanagan Open Jan. 21, where he wrestled at 133 pounds.
David Bonin regained the Panther lead with a 9-4 decision over Cameron Hurd. The junior has won nine-straight dual matches. The win put UNI up 10-7. However, that would be the last time UNI would lead.
No. 7 Pete Yates handed the Panthers' Riley Banach a 12-5 decision at 165 pounds. Banach prevented a major decision with two takedowns within the match's final 20 seconds. At that point, Virginia Tech tied the score at 10.
The Hokies went on to take a six-point lead after Chris Moon pinned UNI's Onni Prestidge in 0:56.
No. 6 Ryan Loder brought UNI within two (16-14) after defeating John Dickson with an 8-0 major decision. The sophomore improved his overall record to 28-2 and his dual record to 12-1 with the victory.
Virginia Tech responded with their own major decision as Nick Vetterlein capitalized on a takedown on Taylor Kettman within the final 10 seconds to put himself up 12-5. After a riding time point, Vetterlein had a 13-5 major decision over Kettman at 197 pounds.
Blayne Beale (285) ended the dual with an 8-3 decision over Virginia Tech's Chris Penny, but anything short of a pin would not be enough.
UNI will now face Wisconsin at 3 p.m. The Badgers lost to Iowa State in the other first round dual by a score of 36-3. The Panthers defeated Wisconsin at the West Gym earlier this season, 25-15.
125: Cruse Aarhus (UNI) dec. Ty Mitch (VT), 7-4 (3-0 UNI)
133: #11 Joe Colon (UNI) maj. #1 Devin Carter (VT), 13-3 (7-0 UNI)
141: #20 Zach Neibert (VT) maj. Levi Wolfensperger (UNI), 10-2 (7-4 UNI)
149: Nick Brascetta (VT) dec. Ryan Jauch (UNI), 3-0 (7-7)
157: David Bonin (UNI) dec. Cameron Hurd (VT), 9-4 (10-7 UNI)
165: #7 Pete Yates (VT) dec. Riley Banach (UNI), 12-5 (10-10)
174: Chris Moon (VT) FALL Onni Prestidge (UNI), 0:56 (16-10 VT)
184: #6 Ryan Loder (UNI) maj. John Dickson (VT), 8-0 (16-14 VT)
197: Nick Vetterlein (VT) maj. Taylor Kettman (UNI), 13-5 (20-14 VT)
285: Blayne Beale (UNI) dec. Chris Penny (VT), 8-3 (20-17 VT)