CEDAR FALLS — It was not a successful home debut for the University of Northern Iowa wrestling team Sunday at the West Gym.
Cornell University won four of the last five matches, including the final three, as the 18th-ranked Big Red scored a 21-14 victory over the 20th-ranked Panthers in front of 1,541 fans.
“We gave up way too many points,” UNI head coach Doug Schwab said. “The place got real quiet. I don’t know if I’ve heard the West Gym that quiet. Good job on their part ... it got real quiet and they did a good job of slamming the door.”
It was a successful home debut for Tyrell Gordon.
The true freshman who starred for Waterloo East the past four seasons made his Panther debut, scoring a 3-2 victory at 197 pounds.
“I didn’t know until last night,” Gordon said of the decision to give up his redshirt. “There was kind of talk for about a week, so I was preparing to wrestle.”
Gordon trailed 1-0 to start the third period, but escaped early and when Taylor went for a throw and missed, Gordon spun around Taylor for the takedown with just under a minute left in the match. Taylor escaped quickly, but Gordon fought to the finish to earn a win that gave UNI a 14-10 lead with three matches to go.
“It feels good, but at the same time I could’ve scored a lot more points,” Gordon said. “I think nerves got to me a little bit. But the next time I will score more points, it will be a more exciting match.”
Gordon appears to be the man at 197 moving forward. Schwab officially confirmed that returning All-American Jacob Holschlag will miss the season after suffering a left knee injury in a preseason practice.
Schwab expects Holschlag, a junior, to get the year of eligibility back and then have two years of eligibility when he returns next season.
Gordon, who was 10-2 wrestling unattached this season, will be the starter for now with his next action coming at the Midlands Championships in Illinois later this month.
“That is what you want to see out of a guy,” Schwab said. “You want to see if he is still able to find a way even if you are not at your best. That is what great competitors do.
“He is only going to get better every single time out,” continued Schwab. “We had a process of talking and it is the best thing for the team, the best thing for him and he is the type of guy when he gets out in that type of atmosphere and he can feel the level of a guy, his level is only going to raise.”
It was also a day when UNI honored Cornell head coach Rob Koll, whose father Bill was a three-time NCAA champion for Iowa State Teachers College and a 1948 Olympian.
“I used to vacation there, run through these halls when I was a little boy,” Koll said. “I feel like I’m at home at this place. It hasn’t changed a whole lot. It is just lot of fun.”
The first four matches of the dual were split before Taylor Lujan scored 11 third-period points to major decision Brandon Womack 14-6 at 174 to give the Panthers an 11-7 lead at the midway point.
Other winners for UNI were Max Thomsen with a major at 149, and Bryce Steiert at 165.
But after the intermission, the Big Red got on a roll, including Max Dean rallying from a 4-1 deficit to defeat Drew Foster 6-5 in a battle of All-Americans at 184 pounds.
Gordon’s victory stemmed the tide briefly, but Jeramy Sweaney topped an undersized Izaak Shedenhelm 6-2 at 285 pounds. Shedenhelm had been wrestling at 197 as late as last week, but was called on to step up with an injury to starter Carter Isley.
Cornell then closed out the match with Vitali Arujau, a four-time New York state champ, beating Jay Schwarm, 17-7, and Chaz Tucker closing out the victory with a 12-2 win over Jack Skudlarczyk at 133.
“They kept attacking, kept on scoring points,” Schwab said. “We’re going to put an exclamation point on this and we’re not going to give these guys a chance. That is what they did.
“This is one thing we have to learn. To be a great team and great competitors, when someone raises their level, you have to be able to raise yours.”
Cornell 21, UNI 14
141 — Yianni Diakomihalis (Corn) maj. dec. Josh Alber, 12-2, 149 — Max Thomsen (UNI) maj. dec. Hunter Richard, 14-4, 157 — Fredy Stroker (Corn) dec. Patrick Schoenfelder 12-6, 165 — Bryce Steiert (UNI) dec. Milik Dawkins 8-6, 174 — Taylor Lujan (UNI) maj. dec. Brandon Womcak, 14-6, 184 — Max Dean (Corn) dec. Drew Foster, 6-5, 197 — Tyrell Gordon (UNI) dec. Jake Taylor 3-2, 285 — Jeramy Sweany (Corn) dec. Izaak Shedenhelm 6-2, 125 — Vitali Arujau (Corn) maj. dec. Jay Schwarm, 17-7, 133 — Chaz Tucker (Corn) maj. dec. Jack Skudlarczyk, 12-2.