OKLAHOMA CITY - The University of Northern Iowa opened the 2014 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships impressively.
The Panthers pounced and posted five straight victories to begin the national tournament Thursday at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. UNI was tied for 18th with five six points.
Top-ranked 133-pounder Joe Colon earned a bonus point for the Panthers with a 9-1 major decision over Rutgers' Vincent Dellefave.
The most exciting win of the first round came from Cody Caldwell. The Panthers' unseeded 174-pounder scored a come-from-behind victory to avenge a pair of losses to Ohio University's No. 8 seed Cody Walters. Caldwell trailed late, but scored late to tie it, 6-6, and force overtime. He added three points in the first tiebreaker and advanced with a 9-6 win.
The win was a good reversal for Caldwell.
"It's not pretty, but I don't care," UNI Coach Doug Schwab said. "He doesn't care."
Freshman Dylan Peters (125), Joey Lazor (141) and 165-pounder Cooper Moore added decisions during the stretch.
UNI All-American Ryan Loder lost a tough opening-round decision to Lazarus Reyes, 6-4, in sudden victory at 184. He will have a tough road to return to the awards podium.
"The thing is champions respond," Schwab said. "He wants to finish his career a certain way, so he's really going to have to gut up and then storm through the backside."
Heavyweight Blaize Cabell, a former Independence prep, lost a 1-0 decision to Minnesota's two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson.
"There are no moral victories," Schwab said. "Even though he lost to a two-time national champion, I think we have to give ourselves more opportunities."