AMES, Iowa - There's nothing worse than having a victory within reach only to have it snatched away.
Friday night at Hilton Coliseum, Northern Iowa bolted to a 16-3 lead after five weights only to see 18th-ranked Iowa State (8-8) rally for a 21-20 victory in a spirited in-state dual wrestling meet.
The dejection, however, is something Panther head coach Doug Schwab can handle about the loss.
"The thing that I like is our guys are disappointed," Schwab said. "They came in here believing they could win. I haven't seen that.
"I haven't seen those guys that disappointed about a loss like they are now, and that is good. It is good because I know they care. It is a step for our team as far as coming togther."
UNI led 12-0 after the first three weights, getting wins from Caleb Flores and Ryan Jauch at 125 and 133, respectively, while Joey Lazor received a forfeit at 141.
ISU got on the board with a narrow, 4-2, win by Max Mayfield at 149 over Brett Robbins, before the Panthers' David Bonin majored Trent Weatherman, 11-2, to give UNI a 16-3 lead at the midpoint.
But the tables turned quickly as Nick Pickerell was forced to default at 165 to Andrew Sorenson with yet another concussion that Schwab said is probably a career-ending injury.
At 174, top-ranked Jon Reader scored a technical fall over Brice Wolf, and the Cyclones and their fans were back into the meet.
"Fortunately we have some guys who are capable ... we're talking Andrew Sorenson and Jon Reader, who can put us back into position to win the match," said Iowa State coach Kevin Jackson.
Ryan Loder posted a major decision over Cole Shafer at 184 to put UNI up 20-14, but ISU was heavily favored in the final two matches, leaving Jackson confident.
"Once we got into position to win, I felt pretty good about us winning at 197 and heavyweight," Jackson said. "Fortunately, Ward (Jerome) got the major, which was the point that allowed us to take the lead at the end.
"I felt good we'd get the wins. I just didn't know if we'd get the major."
Ward's 12-3 win over Andy O'Louglin at 197 closed the score to 20-18, leaving ISU heavyweight Kyle Simonson to face UNI's Blayne Beale in his varsity debut after Panther two-time national qualifier Christian Brantley was suspended Thursday.
Simonson had beaten Beale, 16-0, in November, but squeaked out the victory Friday, 3-2, winning by virtue of the riding time he built.
"I went out there and wrestled, not panicky, stayed patient, probably too patient at times," Simonson said. "I just knew if I went out there and did what I had to do, the team thing would take care of itself."
Coming so close in a match they felt was theirs for the taking won't sit well with the Panthers ... at least it had better not.
"It leaves a bad taste in your mouth," Bonin said. "You are right there and you don't get it. If it doesn't drive you, you need to get the heck out."
UNI was seeking its first victory over Iowa State since 2004 and first in Ames since 2003.
"We'll build off this ... energy, enthusiasm and hustle. That goes a long way," Schwab said. "It wins a lot of wrestling matches. I think for the most part we hustled, we fought.
"Blayne Beale wrestled a heck of a match. If he had a little more experience, he'd have gotten a reversal there. He came out and battled.
"It would've been a big win. We need a marquee win. We haven't had one. We've been close, been in a lot of dogfights, a lot of tight meets, but we haven't done what we needed to do, whether it is getting the last takedown or not giving up a bonus point.
"We just haven't done it, yet. I think the way these guys feel now, there is a little regret, and that is good because hopefully it will motivate them more."
UNI (8-9) travels to Northern Colorado next Friday.
125 - Caleb Flores (UNI) dec. Brandon Jones 9-3; 133 - Ryan Jauch (UNI) dec. Ben Cash 8-3; 141 - Joey Lazor (UNI) won by forfeit; 149 - Max Mayfield (ISU) dec. Brett Robbins 4-2; 157 - David Bonin (UNI) dec. Trent Weatherman 11-2; 165 - Andrew Sorenson (ISU) won by inj. default over Nick Pickerell; 174 - Jon Reader (ISU) technical fall over Brice Wolf, 17-1, 4:19; 184 - Ryan Loder (UNI) dec. Cole Shafer 11-2; 197 - Jerome Ward (ISU) dec. Andy O'Loughlin 12-3; Hwt. - Kyle Simonson (ISU) dec. Blayne Beale 3-2. Att - 2,393.