OKLAHOMA CITY – Northern Iowa crowned a trio of first-time All-Americans last night during the second day of the NCAA Division I wrestling championships at the Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City.
Still, after two close semifinal losses from top-seed Joe Colon (133) and fifth-seed Dylan Peters at 125, there was a slight feeling of what might have been.
"They've got to come back and get third place," UNI Coach Doug Schwab asserted. "That stinks going to the back side, it hurts. But once you leave the arena you've got to be done with it and move on and get ready for tomorrow."
Semifinal disappointments aside, three UNI All-Americans represent the largest number at nationals since 2002. Equally notable was Peters became the first UNI freshman All-American since Tony Wieland in 1996. Current UNI assistant Mark Schwab achieved the feat in 1986.
"That's good company," Peters said after an in-state quarterfinal win over Iowa State's Earl Hall. "Your goal growing up is you watch these guys, you watch them win national titles and get on that podium, get that trophy. You've always wanted to do it and now it's done."
Peters bested Hall with a takedown in the first sudden victory period for the 4-2 victory.
"It's huge, it's huge for our program," Schwab said between sessions. "That's great for us, that's great for him and the program.
Peters (34-5) fell in the evening semifinal in a 9-6 decision to top-seed Jesse Delgado (29-2). Joe Colon (33-2) dug a hole he could not climb out of against the Wisconsin five-seed Tyler Graff, yielding a pair of first-period takedowns before dropping the 6-4 decision.
"You give up points early," Schwab said. "Go two-and-two a minute into the match against Graff is tough to come back from. I think he panicked a little bit, and then he got stung again with another shot."
UNI is tied for 11th in the team standings with Iowa State, Missouri and Northwestern with 35.5 points, a point-and-a-half behind Illinois for 10th. Penn State leads with 91 points.
11-seed Joey Lazor dropped a 5-2 decision in the 141 quarterfinals to Penn State's Zain Retherford, the three seed. But the senior rebounded with a 1-0 consolation decision over Hofstra eight-seed Luke Vaith to earn the All-American honor which eluded him a year ago.
"It felt great, finally," said Lazor, who later moved into the top six with a pin of Michigan's Stephen Dutton III. "I was minutes away from it last year. I got through, broke through. Senior year, no better time to do it."Cooper Moore (165) and Cody Caldwell (174) both dropped consolation openers. All-American Ryan Loder (15-4), an upset victim in Thursday's first round, was a round shy of an All-American repeat when he lost a 6-5 decision to Boise State's Jacob Swartz in the 184 consolations.