CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Three consecutive wins with bonus points pushed UNI wrestling up 23-17 over Northern Illinois.
"You're going to be flat sometimes, and you still need to find a way to get up," said head coach Doug Schwab. "And that's kind of a trick, especially with a young team, young guys."
UNI improved to 4-2 overall and are 2-0 in the MAC.
"My challenge to the team all year has been 'How much ground can we cover? How much better can we get from this event to the next event?'" said Schwab. "If we keep with that mindset, when we get to the national tournament, we're going to be able to make a whole lot of noise."
Northern Illinois got a strong start with a tech fall in 2 minutes, 58 seconds over UNI's Jay Schwarm at 133 pounds.
After a scoreless first period at 141 pound, Jake Hodges gave up an escape to Angel Velasquez but fought off a late attempt at a takedown. He trailed 1-0 to start the third. He quickly tied it up with an escape of his own. With 20 seconds left in the match, Velasquez got the takedown needed to win. A final escape wasn't enough, and UNI trailed 8-0 in team points after the second match.
No. 8 Max Thomsen was first to score with an escape off the start in the second period of the 149-pound match. He led 1-0 over No. 14 Steve Bleise to start the third. Bleise tied it up with an escape, but a second stall warning gave Thomsen the 2-1 lead needed to knock off the third-ranked wrestler in the MAC.
Thomsen leads in the national rankings after a third-place finish at the Southern Scuffle but was ranked fourth in the latest MAC standings released this morning. Bleise is ranked third in the MAC.
Bryce Steiert jumped out to a 6-2 lead after the first period and continued to extend his lead. Steiert notched seven takedowns to earn UNI's first bonus points.
UNI continued to trail Northern Illinois 14-7 at intermission.
Three straight matches with bonus points gave UNI the first lead of the dual.
Taylor Lujan got it rolling with an exciting matchup at 174 pounds. Lujan gave up the first takedown, but he countered with a reversal to tie it up midway through the first period. He kept an aggressive offense to get the fall in 4:41 and closed the team score gap 14-13.
Jacob Holschlag's 11-1 major decision at 184 pounds pushed the team score to 17-14 in UNI's favor.
Chase Shedenhelm debuted in the Panther lineup at 197 pounds, up a weight from his usual 184 pounds. He was able to get a reversal on No. 10 Shawn Scott, but an escape and riding time gave Northern Illinois the 4-2 decision.
JJ Everard gave himself a 3-0 lead to start the third period. NIU's Caleb Gossett escaped just before Everard earned the final second for riding time, but Everard grabbed another takedown to earn the point. Everard's 6-2 decision gave UNI the 20-17 lead heading into the final match of the dual.
A reversal and four-point nearfall gave No. 11 Dylan Peters the 6-1 lead to start the second. He would go on to win 7-2 over NIU's Brock Hudkins.
"The last two guys (Peters and Everard) did what they really had to do to close it out," said Schwab.
The Panthers improved to 36-1-5 against the Huskies.
UNI will hit the road for another MAC match-up with Central Michigan Jan. 15.
"They are very stingy team," said Schwab. "We have to be able to get some more angles. They don't give you a whole lot of opportunities."
133: Alijah Jeffery (NIU) tech fall Jay Schwarm (UNI), 16-0 (2:58)
141: Angel Velasquez (NIU) dec. Jake Hodges (UNI), 3-2
149: #8 Max Thomsen (UNI) dec. #14 Steve Bleise (NIU), 2-1
157: Caden McWhirter (NIU) inj. def. Paden Moore (UNI)
165: #10 Bryce Steiert (UNI) maj. dec. Shaun'Qae McMurtry (NIU), 19-5 (2:54 RT)
174: #11 Taylor Lujan (UNI) pinned Trace Engelkes (UNI), 4:41
184: Jacob Holschlag (UNI) maj. dec. Bryce Gorman (NIU), 11-1 (3:53 RT)
197: #10 Shawn Scott (NIU) dec. Chase Shedenhelm (UNI), 4-2 (2:04 RT)
285: JJ Everard (UNI) dec. Caleb Gossett (NIU), 6-2 (1:05 RT)
125: #11 Dylan Peters (UNI) dec. Brock Hudkins, (NIU), 7-2