TULSA, Okla. — Taylor Lujan and Drew Foster became the University of Northern Iowa’s first Big 12 Conference wrestling champions Sunday to cap a strong overall performance by the Panthers.
Wrestling in the Big 12 tournament for the first time after joining the league, UNI finished second in the team standings behind perennial power Oklahoma State, 137-96.5.
In all, the Panthers had six automatic qualifiers to the March 15-17 NCAA Championships in Cleveland, Ohio. Jay Schwarm (125), Josh Alber (141), Max Thomsen (149) and Logan Ryan (157) will join Lujan and Foster in college wrestling’s showcase event.
Lujan, ranked seventh nationally, topped 10th-ranked David Kocer of South Dakota State 6-3 for his title and the 11th-ranked Foster followed with a 5-1 victory over Dylan Gabel of Colorado.
Seventh-ranked Max Thomsen, who also reached Sunday’s championship round, fell to No. 14 Boo Lewallen of Oklahoma State and settled for second.
Schwarm secured his spot at nationals by virtue of a fourth-place finish. He defeated Christian Moody of Oklahoma 10-8 Sunday before dropping a 6-4 decision to Taylor LaMont of Utah Valley.
Alber rebounded from a disappointing 2-0 loss to Oklahoma State’s Dean Heil in Saturday’s semifinals to post a 3-2 win over Ian Parker of Iowa State in the consolation semifinals Sunday and then a 5-3 win over Henry Pohlmeyer of South Dakota State for third.
Ryan fought his way back to fifth place with a 3-2 win over Alex Mossing of Air Force, while Isaiah Patton fell one win short of the NCAA Championships at 165.
Holschlag worked his way into the third-place match at 197 where he dropped an 8-4 decision to Preston Weigel of Oklahoma State, and Isley made the NCAA field as the sixth-place finisher at 285 despite a pair of Sunday setbacks.
Iowa State had one automatic qualifier in 149-pounder Jarrett Degen, who earned a third-place finish with a 20-5 technical fall over Wyoming’s Sam Turner.
Several other Cyclones will have to hope for at-large NCAA bids.
Ian Parker took fifth place at 141, Chase Straw dropped a match for third and an automatic NCAA berth at 157 2-0, Dane Pestano fell by technical fall in the fifth-place match at 184 and Marcus Harrington posted an 18-4 win in consolation action before being edged by Dustin Dennison of Utah Valley 6-5 in the third-place bout at 285 pounds.
Big 12 Championships
TEAM STANDINGS — 1. Oklahoma St. 137, 2. Northern Iowa 96.5, 3. South Dakota St. 94, 4. Wyoming 82.5, 5. North Dakota St. 57, 6. Oklahoma 52, 7. Iowa St. 51, 8. Utah Valley 50.5, 9. West Virginia 50, 10. Northern Colorado 30.5, 11. Fresno St. 26.5, 12. Air Force 22.5.
Championship — Nick Piccininni (Okla. St.) pinned Zeke Moisey (W. Va.), 1:49.
Third place — Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley) dec. Jay Schwarm (UNI), 6-4.
Championship — Seth Gross (S. Dak. St.) dec. Kaid Brock (Okla. St.), 8-5.
Third place — Montorie Bridges (Wyo) dec. Matt Schmitt (W. Va.), 2-1.
Championship — Bryce Meredith (Wyo) dec. Dean Heil (Okla. St.), 6-5.
Third place — Josh Alber (UNI) dec. Henry Pohlmeyer (S. Dak. St.), 5-3.
Championship — Boo Lewallen (Okla. St.) dec. Max Thomsen (UNI), 9-3.
Third place — Jarrett Degen (Iowa St.) tech. fall over Sam Turner (Wyo), 20-5, 6:41.
Championship — Archie Colgan (Wyo) dec. Clay Ream (N. Dak. St.), 4-3.
Third place — Luke Zilverberg (S. Dak. St.) dec. Chase Straw (Iowa St.), 2-0.
Championship — Chandler Rogers (Okla. St.) dec. Andrew Fogarty (N. Dak. St.), 12-9.
Third place — Branson Ashworth (Wyo) tech. fall over Keilan Torres (N. Colo.), 18-0, 2:46.
Championship — Taylor Lujan (UNI) dec. David Kocer (S. Dak. St.), 6-3.
Third place — Jacobe Smith (Okla. St.) dec. Yoanse Mejias (Okla), 6-4.
Championship — Drew Foster (UNI) dec. Dylan Gabel (N. Colo.), 5-1.
Third place — Keegan Moore (Okla. St.) maj. dec. Martin Mueller (S. Dak. St.), 13-5.
Championship — Nate Rotert (S. Dak. St.) dec. Jake Smith (W. Va.), 3-2.
Third place — Preston Weigel (Okla. St.) dec. Jacob Hoslchlag (UNI), 8-4.
Championship — Derek White (Okla. St.) dec. A.J. Nevills (Fresno St.), 13-6.
Third place — Dustin Dennison (Utah Valley) dec. Marcus Harrington (Iowa St.), 6-5.