CEDAR FALLS – Doug Schwab is loyal to the bone.
Schwab is loyal to the University of Northern Iowa. He is loyal to Panther wrestling alumni. And he is super loyal to all of his athletes current and former.
And, he loves the Steelers.
The one thing that mad the 5-hour drive back from Brookings, S.D. passable is his Panthers wrestlers really well in a pair of dual wins over South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
“I’m a loyal fan, you stick with your team, no matter what. Even though that was pretty rough,” smiled Schwab of Pittsburgh’s loss to Cleveland in the AFC playoffs Sunday. “Our team competed well, otherwise it would’ve been a real rough ride home.”
UNI won 13 of 20 contested matches and five wrestlers went 2-0 – Brody Teske at 125, Triston Lara at 149, Pat Schoenfelder at 165, Lance Runyon at 174 and Keegan Moore at 184.
Five of the Panthers wins came by fall.
“Obviously it was good to get back out competing again,” Schwab said. “I think the thing I was most happy with is guys for the most part let it fly. Let the fur fly. What I mean by that is we asked them to take risks to give ourselves opportunities.
“Coaches that is the only way we really can help them. If they don’t do a whole lot, if they stand around we don’t know what we can help them work on.”
UNI in various positions used big moves to either score nearfall points or pins. In particular, the Panthers were impressed with Triston Lara’s left-handed headlock to pin South Dakota State’s Hunter Marko.
“Our team thought the headlock that Tristan hit...We have a saucy award we give out and they thought that was pretty saucy. That was a dirty, dirty, headlock.
“To me that’s just being creative, that’s your wrestling. We’re trying not to take away from guys. If you feel something that’s there, take it and do it. Let your wrestling be an expression of who you are.”
And while not flashy, redshirt freshmen Lance Runyon’s performance at 174 was noteworthy. Runyon went 2-0 and outscored his opponents, 11-0.
““Runyon, if you don’t give up any points, it’s going to be real hard to beat ya, you know. That’s a good thing,” Schwab said.
Depth was shown as well as UNI had 21 wrestlers, with extra matches contested, get at least one match Sunday with the Panthers going 15-4 in those extra matches.
“I think we showed we have some pretty good depth at some weights,” Schwab said.
It was the start Schwab had hoped to see when he first got his entire team together on a Zoom meeting in the fall.
“The first thing we talked about is we will come back out of this stronger, we will be better. We will be better as a group. We will be better individually and hopefully a little of that showed yesterday with the way we competed,” Schwab stated. “I thought it was great. I thought our pace was great. But for a starting point for me as a coach and as a team it is a great place to jump off from.”
UNI will jump back into the fray Sunday when the Panthers travel to Ames as part of a four-team meet at Hilton Coliseum. UNI will face Top-20 opponents Missouri and Arizona State.
“We will be ready to scrap,” Schwab finished.