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CEDAR FALLS — Don’t try to get University of Northern Iowa wrestling head coach Doug Schwab to brag on his team’s runner-up finish at its first Big 12 Conference wrestling tournament.

“Second’s better than third,” Schwab said Monday during UNI’s weekly coaches’ press conference. “Look at that big gap (137-96.5). I’m proud of our team because we fought for every point (but) I want to be able to maximize how many points we get out of every guy.

“I don’t feel like we competed to our absolute best. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that way no matter what we do. That’s just part of being a coach. I don’t want us to get ever to the point where we’re like, you know what, second’s about the best we can do. I don’t believe that.”

Individually, Schwab was pleased with the effort he saw in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend. UNI crowned its first two Big 12 champions in 174-pounder Taylor Lujan and 184-pounder Drew Foster and qualified six wrestlers for the NCAA Championships. Jay Schwarm (125), Josh Alber (141), Max Thomsen (149) and Jacob Holschlag (197) join Lujan and Foster as national qualifiers.

Isaiah Patton (165), Logan Ryan (fifth at 157) and Carter Isley (sixth at 285) narrowly missed making the NCAA Championships.

“Six guys to the national tournament, we can certainly do some damage with that,” said Schwab, who doesn’t anticipate any at-large NCAA bids.

“I’m proud of how our guys competed and represented our school.”

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Before UNI turns its attention to the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and its opening game against Illinois State Friday at 8:30 p.m., head coach Tanya Warren took a moment Monday to savor what her team has already accomplished.

A squad with just one senior and three freshmen playing regular roles has put together a 17-12 regular season and 13-5 MVC slate good for the No. 3 seed at the league tournament.

“We finished winning six straight road games,” said Warren. “This is the ninth consecutive year our program has won 17 or more games. We’re the only team in the Valley to finish in the top half of the league nine consecutive years and we’re the only team on both the men’s and the women’s side to win 10 or more Valley games nine consecutive years.

“So I’m extremely pleased with the performance of this young group. At the very first press conference I talked about patience and staying true to the process, and this team certainly did that.”

SOFTBALL: UNI put together a 4-1 weekend at Belmont University’s Bruin Classic to help wash away the sting of five straight defeats.

“If it wasn’t for one inning, it would have been a great weekend,” said head coach Ryan Jacobs, whose team gave up a six-run inning and was clipped by Belmont 8-6. “Overall, a good learning experience for us this weekend, and we’re going to have to build on that going forward.”

The Panthers (13-7) play at Kansas University’s Jayhawk Invitational Friday through Sunday with Kansas, Nebraska, Tulsa, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Missouri-Kansas City.

“Every game down there’s going to be a good gauge for us to see where we’re at,” said Jacobs.

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Sports Editor

Sports Editor for The Courier

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