UNI Wrestling vs. Missouri Features 3 Top-25 Matches
The University of Northern Iowa Panthers wrestling team prepares for a huge dual meet this Saturday, January 31, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. On the card, three Top-25 match-ups.
UNI wrestling’s Doug Schwab is looking for some fight in his team as they take on their third top-10 opponent of the year in No. 3 Missouri.
There will be three matches among two top-25 wrestlers at 125 pounds, 165 pounds and heavyweight.
“I don’t care about those numbers. I care about our guys going out to compete,” head coach Doug Schwab explained. “We’re going to have to go out and scrap really hard. It’s a great opportunity for our team.”
“Missouri is a good team,” said Schwab. “We need to go down there with an attitude. They won the conference the last two years, and this is our first time going down there. The conference tournament is down there. So we have to get used to going to Columbia and having success."
Despite four Panthers winning MAC titles, Mizzou edged out UNI at the conference tournament last year by two and a half points for the championship.
“We’re going to be on the road for the MAC tournament and the national tournament, so we better get used to being on the road and winning,” said Schwab.
Five Panthers remain perfect in MAC competition: Dylan Peters (4-0), Taylor Berger (1-0), Cooper Moore (3-0), Basil Minto (3-0) and Blaize Cabell (4-0).Heavyweight Cabell hasn’t lost a match since Dec. 6. He is on an eight-win streak.
Six Panthers cracked the NCAA rankings released Jan. 22. Mizzou has a wrestler ranked in all 10 weight classes.
MATCHUPS (UNI VS. MU – rankings based on NCAA Coaches Panel from Jan. 22)
125 POUNDS – No. 6 Dylan Peters, sophomore (16-3) vs. No. 1 Alan Waters, senior (21-0) or Chase Brennan, freshman (11-9)
Peters was UNI’s first freshman to medal at the NCAA tournament since 1996. He took sixth. Peters is two falls away from cracking UNI’s top 10 for most career falls among all Panthers. He is ranked second in the MAC.
Waters is coming off a redshirt year after taking fourth at the 2013 NCAA tournament at 125 pounds. He is a three-time NCAA qualifier and the MAC’s top seed.
“I am excited to see Dylan Peters go compete against this guy” said Schwab. “Let’s see where he is at. If he wants to put himself up there as one of the best 125-pounders in this country, then he has to beat guys like this.”
133 POUNDS – Leighton Gaul, redshirt freshman (7-12) vs. No. 27 Zach Synon, sophomore (25-8)
Synon is ranked third in the MAC. Both wrestlers have moved up a weight to try their hand at 133 pounds this year.
141 POUNDS – Jake Hodges, redshirt freshman (9-11) or Tyler Willers, sophomore (10-7) vs. No. 5 Lavion Mayes, sophomore (24-1)
Hodges won his first two duals for the Panthers. He has wrestled three top-15 matchups this season, including two bouts with No. 3 Devin Carter of Virginia Tech.
Mayes was named the conference’s Wrestler of the Week for his latest win over No. 18 Dean Heil of Oklahoma State. Mayes was an NCAA national qualifier last year at 141 pounds.
149 POUNDS – No. 32 Gunnar Wolfensperger, sophomore (17-7) vs. No. 5 Drake Houdashelt, senior (24-1)
Wolfensperger will be facing his fourth top-15 opponent. Houdashelt is the conference favorite and is a three-time national qualifier. He took fifth last year and sixth in 2013 at the NCAA tourney.
“He’s had a tough run, and he has more top-ranked guys coming up, but Gunnar Wolfensperger is staying steady,” Schwab said.
157 POUNDS – Jarrett Jensen, junior (16-9) vs. No. 13 Joey Lavallee, sophomore (17-7)
This will be a matchup between the MAC’s No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, with Jensen ranked third. Lavallee qualified for the national tournament last year. Lavallee beat Jensen 4-1 last year.
“Jensen is doing everything he needs to do to improve, and he comes out swinging,” said Schwab. “He’s done that for his entire career for us, and he will continue to do that.”
165 POUNDS – No. 11 Cooper Moore, sophomore (16-3) or Taylor Berger, junior (12-6) vs. No. 25 Mikey England, senior (17-8)
Moore is the conference favorite and returning NCAA qualifier. The sophomore is undefeated in duals this season. England moved down a weight after having qualified for the NCAA tourney at 174 pounds last year.
174 POUNDS – Curt Maas, sophomore (18-6) or Kyle Lux, junior (9-8) vs. No. 6 Johnny Eblen, senior (20-3)
Maas is ranked fourth in the MAC. Eblen is the MAC’s top seed nationally, but is second in the MAC. Eblen was injured near the end of last season.
184 POUNDS – No. 30 Cody Caldwell, junior (12-4) vs. No. 12 Willie Miklus, redshirt freshman (22-4)
Caldwell is a returning NCAA qualifier and this year’s UCM Open champion. He’s ranked third in the MAC, and Miklus is the top seed. Miklus is a redshirt freshman.
197 POUNDS – No. 30 Basil Minto, senior (18-7) vs. No. 1 J’Den Cox, sophomore (23-0)
Minto missed the latest MAC rankings but has beaten the conference’s third-ranked wrestler. Cox won nationals last year as a true freshman. Minto dropped an 8-1 decision to Cox last year.
“Everything is building toward March, and you want to see signs of progress,” said Schwab. “I am seeing some really great things from guys like Basil Minto. We just want to see more of those signs.”
285 POUNDS – No. 10 Blaize Cabell, junior (19-4) vs. No. 14 Devin Mellon, senior (22-7)
Cabell, an NCAA qualifier last year, has beaten Mellon two time. The first win came at last year’s dual in the Panthers’ West Gym. The latest win was at the UCM Open for third place this year. Cabell hasn’t lost a match since Dec. 6. He has won his last eight matches. Three of Cabell’s four losses this season have been to wrestlers ranked in the top 11. Cabell recently knocked off No. 7 Ty Walz of Virginia Tech.
“Blaize has had a really great run,” said Schwab. “He’s been scoring a lot of points. For a heavyweight to score six, seven, eight takedowns, that’s just unheard of.”
Cabell notched 17 takedowns in back-to-back duals against Northern Illinois’ Arthur Bunce and Buffalo’s Mike Silvis earlier this month.
Mellon is the MAC’s top seed at heavyweight. He is a two-time NCAA qualifier.