OKLAHOMA CITY – Joey Lazor appeared to be in dire straits. The Northern Iowa 11-seed at 141 saw a 5-0 lead over All-American Christopher Dardanes evaporate into an 8-8 tie in the closing seconds of the second round, with the sixth-seed from Minnesota on the verge of a takedown.
Then the UNI senior leaned on all of the countless reps from the West Gym and grabbed for whatever he could.
"In the room, whenever I wrestle challengers, we never give up any easy points," Lazor said after the second round of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
"If there's a way to grab something and go, we're going for it."
Before the clock expired, Lazor locked up a spladle move from the Minnesota junior and rolled over for a two-point takedown and a dramatic 10-8 decision before thunderous applause.
"He double-legged me, and his leg was open," Lazor said. "I went for it."
Lazor (18-5) was the third of three Panthers to advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals, which begin at 10 a.m. The tournament top seed at 133, Joe Colon (32-1), posted a 5-1 decision over Missouri freshman Matt Manley, which followed a 9-1 major decision over Rutgers' Vincent Dellefave. Red-shirt freshman Dylan Peters (33-4), the five seed at 125, moved through the first two rounds with a pair of decisions in his first trip to nationals.
"It's always good to get that first-round win and start feeling better," Peters said.
Peters' win sets up an in-state quarterfinal tomorrow against Earl Hall from Iowa State.
"He's real tough, he wrestles hard," Peters said. "He's really explosive so I'll have to be at my best tomorrow, too."
There were other late-match fireworks for UNI in the first round, where the Panthers won five of seven bouts. Sophomore 174-pounder Cody Caldwell (17-14) scored an upset win over eighth-seeded Cody Walters from Ohio with a clutch two-point takedown in the final 10 seconds to tie the match which Caldwell eventually won, 9-6, in the first tiebreaker.
“He just found a way to win,” UNI Coach Doug Schwab said. “There’s been some situations this year he hasn’t done that. To see him respond on the biggest stage, that’s huge for him.”UNI All-American Ryan Loder dropped a first-round match to Illinois' Lazarus Reyes by sudden victory, 6-4. Heavyweight Blaize Cabell also lost his opener, a 1-0 decision to two-time defending national champion Anthony Nelson from Minnesota.