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Two Cyclones, two Panthers win Big 12 titles
BIG 12 WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Two Cyclones, two Panthers win Big 12 titles

From the Collection of UNI wrestling stories series
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TULSA, Okla. – Both Iowa State and Northern Iowa crowned a pair of champions Sunday at the Big 12 Conference wrestling championships at the BOK Center.

UNI got wins from Bryce Steiert at 174 and Taylor Lujan at 184, while Iowa State’s champions were junior Ian Parker and freshman David Carr at 141 and 157 respectively.

Steiert had lost in the conference twice as a freshman and sophomore, and was third last March at the Big 12 Championships, so entering his third conference final of his career, he was going to leave nothing to chance.

After giving up the first takedown and a reversal to Oklahoma’s Anthony Mantanona in the first period, Steiert kept firing and kept firing. The furious pace eventually wore Mantanona down as Steiert pinned him in 5:51.

“Feels great. My third conference championship match and to come out on top finally feels good,” Steiert said.

As far as his constant attack and relentless pace, Steiert said, “That is what we train to do. What our training is set up to do.”

Fifth-ranked nationally, Steiert, the Waverly native will head to Minneapolis in two weeks seeking to reach the podium in back to back seasons.

Waiting in the wings and watching Steiert win, Lujan ranked first nationally at 184, had a couple of thoughts.

One was leave nothing to chance and trust his training. The second …

“As long as I’m not going against Bryce Steiert in a match I know I’m going to be alright,” Lujan smiled.

Lujan delivered in his match, beating South Dakota State's Zach Carlson, 10-6, in a match he controlled from start to finish. 

The victory makes Lujan a two-time Big 12 champion, he also won in 2018, and a three-time conference champion altogether as he won a Mid-American Conference title as a freshman. He was second a year ago.

Lujan joins Drew Foster as the Panthers' only two-time Big 12 champions. 

“Two champs give you some momentum,” said UNI head coach Doug Schwab, who was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year after the tournament. “But how they competed … attacking and setting a high pace that is how we want to compete.

“You fire and keep firing and setting an incredible pace and at some point your opponent can’t handle it. They did a great job. I  just love how they competed.”

In addition to Steiert and Lujan, UNI had four other wrestlers automatically qualify for the NCAA championships -- Jay Schwarm at 125, Jack Skudlarczyk at 133, Michael Blockhus at 141 and Carter Isley at  285.

Senior Max Thomsen, who finished sixth after medically forfeiting his two matches Sunday, will be a strong candidate for a wild card berth at 149. Those allocations will come later this week. 

Oklahoma State won the tournament with 147.5 points, while the Cyclones were second with 116.5 and Panthers third with 111.5.  

Schwab had this to say about the coaching award.

“That award isn’t mine,” Schwab said. “It is much bigger than that. You can probably give out a thousand pieces. They announced me, but it is the whole staff with Randy (Pugh), Lee (Roper), Brett (Robbins), Cruse (Aarhus) and Troy (Garrett) and then the administration and you go to your athletes who have trusted and believed and listened. They do the work.”

Parker and Carr are the Cyclones’ 212 and 213th Big 12 champions. It is the first time since 2013 that ISU has had multiple conference champions.

Parker had lost twice to Oklahoma’s Dom Demas this season, but it was Parker who got to a Demas’ leg quickly in the sudden victory period two and he finished for a 4-2 victory.

Carr, the son of ISU Hall of Famer, Nate Carr, used a pair of takedowns en route to a 6-4 win over Oklahoma State’s Wyatt Sheets.

Carr is just the fifth ISU freshman to win joining Lelund Weatherspoon, David Zabriske, Cael Sanderson and Joe Heskett

Eight Cyclones earned automatic bids to the NCAA championships. In addition to Mackall, Parker, Carr and Gremmel, Jarrett Degen, Independence native Chase Straw, Sam Colbray and Marcus Coleman will wrestle in Minneapolis.

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Sports Reporter

I’m a Waterloo native who has covered Cedar Valley sports for more than 30 years for the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. I’m also a big Cincinnati Reds fan … Go Big Red Machine!

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