PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Drew Foster’s teammates call him Doc.
For the first day and a half of the NCAA wrestling championships, the University of Northern Iowa senior has been referred to as Doug. His hometown has been announced as Burlington, Ill. He’s been identified as a Northern Illinois wrestler.
There is a good chance the announcers have it right now.
With yet another dominating performance, Foster became UNI’s first national finalist since Sean Stender in 2005 with a 7-4 victory over Chip Ness of North Carolina in the 184-pound semifinals Friday at PPG Paints Arena in the NCAA wrestling championships.
“I hope so,” Foster said when asked if people might finally get his bio correct. “It’s Mediapolis, Iowa. Burlington, Iowa. Southeast Iowa, and Drew Foster, ... or Doc.”
Like each of his first three matches, Foster was the aggressor against Ness but there was no score after one period. Ness escaped to open the second, but Foster finally finished a shot and nearly pinned Ness midway through the second as he jumped out to a 4-1 lead.
Ness gave Foster a brief scare with a two-point tilt to open the second, but Foster eventually escaped and secured his spot in the finals opposite Cornell’s Max Dean with a takedown with 12 seconds left in the match.
“Definitely dreamt it,” said Foster of being a national champion. “I think it was Tony Davis in 2000 (UNI’s last champ), and just to have the opportunity to be here ...
“I’ve got teammates that work as hard as I do and their tournament didn’t go the way they wanted it, so when I’m out here I’m representing myself, my coaches, the university and my family. I’m just excited and grateful.”
Earlier in the day, Foster became the Panthers’ 25th two-time All-American with a 5-2 win over Zach Zavatsky of Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals.
“Awesome. He has done a great job all weekend,” UNI head coach Doug Schwab said. “He stayed focused. He stayed steady.
“Incredibly proud of him. He had a losing record his freshman year, but the amount of work he has put in ... really excited for him and now go be our first champ since 2000.”
In UNI’s other two morning quarterfinals, Bryce Steiert lost all the scrambles and dropped a 6-0 decision to Arizona State’s Josh Shields at 165 pounds. At 174, Lujan battled defending national champion Mark Hall of Penn State, but could not solve the Nittany Lion in a 5-3 loss.
Steiert, a junior from Waverly who redshirted last season after reaching the round of 12 as a freshman and a sophomore, rebounded with a dominating, 10-1 victory to reach the podium.
“It feels good to come to fruition,” said Steiert of the years of hard work he has put into the sport. “There is so many people that poured into what has happened that it feels that you weren’t even wrestling for yourself ... from everyone at UNI to my roots back at Waverly-Shell Rock.
“It is huge. Everyone has an intricate part in this and it is, finally etch your name into that book (history book) ... It is good to break through.”
Both Thomsen and Lujan lost in the round of the 12 for the second consecutive NCAA championships. Thomsen fell in sudden victory to Missouri’s Brock Mauller, and Lujan to now three-time Virginia Tech All-American David McFadden.