CEDAR FALLS — With a big match-up against the University of Oklahoma looming, it may be easier for the Northern Iowa wrestling team to put arguably its worst loss of the season behind them.
The Panthers fell, 19-18, to Air Force on Sunday, just their second dual loss this season.
“You got to have a short memory sometimes for the bad, and (Sunday) wasn’t a good performance,” Coach Doug Schwab said on Monday. “We told our guys when they got off the plane they leave it behind and move forward. We challenge our guys that we take this in the right way. It’s a response for the good.
“We’ve got to compete with more passion. Wrestling is too tough of a sport to go out there and go through the motions. I’ll put that on me as a coach. I’ve got to have my guys more ready and sharp. We have to fight and hustle and battle more.”
Before their match against Air Force, the Panthers were on a roll to start the new year. UNI was 2-0 by a combined 96-6 and had a total of 11 place-winners in two open tournaments.
David Bonin led the way with his No. 1 ranking in the Mid-American Conference at the 157 pounds.
“(Bonin) had a bad match, but he really got caught in one position,” Schwab said of Bonin’s loss on Sunday. “A lot of times that’s enough. We’ve got to get the ship right because he’s got a good guy coming in on Friday.”
UNI returns to the mat on Friday, hosting Oklahoma and honoring Bill Smith, the school’s only Olympic gold medalist and the oldest living gold medalist from the 1952 Olympics.