CEDAR FALLS – University of Northern Iowa Coach Doug Schwab said his wrestlers have the ability to turn a snowball into an avalanche.
Unfortunately for seventh-ranked Missouri, it was the one buried alive by the Panthers.
Fifth-ranked UNI won seven bouts rolled its way to a 24-10 victory over the Tigers in a Mid-American Conference dual last night in front of 2,060 fans, who packed the West Gym.
The Panthers (7-0, 4-0 MAC) continued their hot streak, beating Oklahoma, previously ranked fourth, on the road Sunday. They have two straight dual wins over top-10 opponents after going a decade without one.
“You can make an avalanche, but we can continue to do the right things,” Schwab said. “What I’ve been telling our guys is just focus on the process. That’s what we’ve done since I got the job, and if we continue to focus on the process the results are going to continue to happen for us.”
UNI remained one of three unbeaten NCAA Division I teams (Penn State, Cornell) in the country, demonstrating heart and toughness to come away with some big victories. The majority of their wins were decided in the final period.
Joe Lazor, Cody Caldwell and heavyweight Blaize Cabell all earned comeback wins in the last two minutes, while red-shirt freshman Cooper Moore cemented his win over a ranked foe in the third.
“It just says they were able to keep their hands on the wheel,” Schwab said. “When things aren’t going their way they are able to keep their composure and focus.”
Lazor’s focus was unwavering that the raucous crowd couldn’t distract him from an impressive rally. Lazor trailed 3-0 after two periods, but scored a takedown with one second remaining to cap a five-point period and 5-4 win over Trevor Jauch at 141.
He was not aware of the time or the fact that he pulled within a point by forcing a second stall call against Jauch. Lazor was competing until the very end.
“I had no idea,” Lazor said. “I went and that’s all I could do to keep going until I hear that buzzer and then try to go a little bit more.”
Lazor didn’t even know he had won and giving UNI a 9-0 team lead. He was running on adrenaline, partially produced from the atmosphere.
“I kept wrestling until the ref was touching and telling me the match was over,” Lazor said. “The crowd was roaring. That gets you going.”
Caldwell had been ridden most of the match before exploding for eight points in the final period, dropping 19th-ranked Mike England at 174.
England led 3-2 with a huge riding-time advantage when Caldwell notched two takedowns and three nearfall to take control and post a 10-7 victory. It marked a huge turnaround in a bout where he had only managed a reversal until the outburst.
“I decided to get tough,” Caldwell said. “I knew I wasn’t going to get tired. I knew I had to get to my offense.”
It came on the heels of Cooper Moore’s 6-2 win over No. 8 Zach Toal at 165. The win provided a boost to the Panthers, coming out of a break after Missouri won two straight matches.
Caldwell said the Panthers are a close-knit team that motivates each other. They receive a boost, trying to match or perform better than their teammates.
“I’m feeding off all these guys,” Caldwell said. “They’re wrestling their butts off. I’m grabbing on to their coattails. I want to do the same thing.”
All-American Ryan Loder sealed the win, taking 10th-ranked Johnny Eblen down to his back and getting a fall in just 26 seconds. Cabell ended the dual with a decision, scoring a takedown in each of the last two periods for a 6-5 victory.
It was important to follow the “upset” win over Oklahoma with another strong showing against the Tigers (4-1, 2-1). It was a win that continues momentum, like the oncoming avalanche or a purple-and-gold locomotive coming down the track.
“We’re on fire,” Lazor said. “We’re ready to go. Like we say, Panther train is rolling.”
Red-shirt freshman Dylan Peters used a pair of takedowns and a riding-time point for a 7-4 win over Barlow McGhee at 125. Top-ranked 133-pounder Joe Colon followed with an 8-1 decision over Matt Manley. He improved to 21-1 overall.
The performance showed the difference between UNI as a top-15 team a year ago and the current top-five team in the country.
“We don’t have bunch of ponies,” Schwab said. “We have some horses. We have some thoroughbreds.”
“It is going to be the difference between us being where we want to be at national tournament time; because you’re going to have to win hard-fought matches like that … We preach that the guys continue to wrestle like that good things will happen.”
AT CEDAR FALLS
UNI 24, Missouri 10
(Individual takedowns in parentheses)
125 pounds - Dylan Peters (UNI) dec. Barlow McGhee, 7-4 (2, 1); 133 - Joe Colon (UNI) dec. Matt Manley, 8-1 (2, 0); 141 - Joey Lazor (UNI) dec. Trevor Jauch, 5-4 (1, 1); 149 - Drake Houdashelt (M) major dec. Tyler Patten, 12-4 (5, 0); 157 - Joey LaValle (M) dec. Jarrett Jensen, 4-1 (1, 0); 165 - Cooper Moore (UNI) dec. Zach Toal, 6-2 (2, 0); 174 - Cody Caldwell (UNI) dec. Mikey England, 10-7 (2, 1); 184 - Ryan Loder (UNI) pinned Johnny Eblen, :26 (1, 0); 197 - J'Den Cox (M) dec. Basil Minto, 8-2 (3, 0); Hwt. - Blaize Cabell (UNI) dec. Devin Mellon, 6-5 (2, 1)
MEET STATISTICSTakedowns - Missouri 13, UNI 12; Escapes - Missouri 15, UNI 13; Reversals - Missouri 1, UNI 2; Nearfall points - Missouri 0, UNI 3; Penalty points (awarded) - Missouri 0, UNI 4; Riding-time points - Missouri 4, UNI 3. Total match points - Missouri 42, UNI 45. Attendance - 2,060.