Northern Iowa deals blowout loss to wrestling team


Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

NIU redshirt junior Mason Kauffman (right) struggles with his opponent, ranked UNI first-year Lance Runyon, Feb. 5, during NIU’s 27-9 loss to the University of Northern Iowa at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb.

By James Krause

DeKALB — In their only home dual of the season, the Huskies wrestling team faltered out of the gate and fell to the 16th-ranked University of Northern Iowa Panthers Friday 27-9.

NIU fought from behind from the start, losing its first two contests by pinfall and its first four matches overall.

Head Coach Ryan Ludwich said the problem his team struggled to overcome all night was execution on escapes that allowed UNI to pick up ridetime bonuses in two crucial matchups late.

“We didn’t perform as well as we wanted in some of the grittier matchups,” Ludwig said. “We have to work on getting out of bottom a little better and executing our escapes to get us to our feet where we can win.”

There were bright spots for some wrestlers, including redshirt junior Mason Kauffman who secured an upset win at 174 pounds over redshirt first-year Lance Runyon. Runyon entered the match ranked 22nd by WrestleStat, and Kauffman’s win moved him to 8-1 on the season.

Kauffman credited his breakout season to focusing more on his wrestling than weight cutting.

“Not having to cut weight has helped,” Kauffman said. “I’ve been focused on preparing for my matches. I’ve been visualizing my matches a lot, at home, trying to figure out what I need to do to win.”

The Panthers got their hot start underway at 125 pounds with a pinfall win by undefeated UNI sophomore Brody Teske over first-year Lucian Brink at 6:33. 

Huskies redshirt 133-pounder junior Bryce West had the advantage early against sophomore Kyle Biscoglia, leading 4-2 after the first. Biscoglia changed momentum around quickly with a takedown and back points in the second before securing a pinfall win at 5:57.

Sophomore Caleb Brooks kept it close with UNI sophomore Drew Bennett at 141 pounds, but a takedown in the third sealed the Panthers a 5-2 decision win.

Redshirt junior Anthony Cheloni brought out his aggression at 149 pounds, getting a takedown and plenty of ridetime in the first. His aggression was to a fault, earning himself a technical foul that meant he trailed after the first. Ultimately, junior Triston Lara took advantage and won by decision with a 7-4 win.

The four-win streak by UNI came to a halt at 157 pounds, when redshirt sophomore Anthony Gibson got the 7-3 decision win. During Gibson’s match, the Panthers’ bench was given an unsportsmanlike conduct foul by officials and docked one team point to make it 17-3 at the dual’s midway point.

NIU redshirt sophomore Anthony Gibson grapples with his UNI opponent, Feb. 5, at the NIU Convocation Center in DeKalb. Gibson would win the match, halting a UNI four-match win streak. (Patrick Murphy | Northern Star)

Redshirt sophomore Izzak Olejnik got a third period takedown in his 165-pound contest with redshirt junior Patrick Schoenfelder to get a 6-4 decision. 

Kauffman defended well against several takedown attempts late by Runyon to hold onto a 4-2 decision. With his win, NIU had won three in a row and had shrunk the lead to 17-9.

In a battle of undefeated 184-pounders, redshirt junior Brit Wilson took on UNI redshirt first-year Parker Keckeisen. Wilson led after both the first and second periods, but Keckeisen tied with an escape and took the lead in the third with a takedown. 

The ridetime bonus gave Keckeisen an 8-5 decision win. It was Wilson’s first loss in 17 matches dating back to last season.

Another third period flurry by Panthers redshirt senior Keegan Moore helped seal the dual win for UNI. Moore earned two takedowns, a two-point nearfall and the ridetime bonus to get ahead 11-3 for the major decision over redshirt sophomore Gage Braun at 197 pounds.

At heavyweight, redshirt senior Max Ihry fell to undefeated senior Carter Isley by a 4-2 decision to make the final score 27-9. Junior Will Feldkamp and redshirt first-year Jaivon Jones each won bonus matches by pinfall.

The loss is NIU’s second of the season to a team ranked by the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll and puts their record at 6-3. UNI’s record moves to 4-2.

The Huskies now have a week to prepare for their final duals of the regular season: two conference battles against the hosting Kent State University Golden Flashes and the Edinboro University Fighting Scots. First match is scheduled to begin 11 a.m. Friday.