UNI wrestling schedule loaded with ranked foes

CEDAR FALLS – The Northern Iowa wrestling team packed its 2015-16 schedule with eight teams that cracked the top 25 in WIN’s preseason rankings. Four of those duals will be held in UNI’s West Gym.

Head coach Doug Schwab pulled in teams outside the conference to increase the competition.

“We don’t want to get to the national tournament and not be ready in some way or not be challenged in some ways,” said Schwab.

The Panthers open the season on the road in Albany, N.Y. They will wrestle three duals in a day at the Journeymen/ASICS Northeast Duals.

“I thought it was good to start out with three duals,” said Schwab. “We will have the team together and really be able to watch everyone wrestle. Sometimes you can miss a guy when you have a lot of matches going on at an open tournament.

“We want guys to be consistent. So you need guys to get up every single time. It is a little change from how we usually started, but I want to see where these guys are at.”

UNI hosts reigning conference champions Missouri for the home opener Nov. 28. Mizzou finished fourth at the national championships last year. The Panthers also will host in-state foe Iowa State Feb. 6, 2016.

Schwab said he likes the big tournaments for the atmosphere and the double weigh-in days. The Panthers will return to the prestigious Midlands and the Las Vegas Invite.

“You get multiple tough matches in during a day. It is similar to nationals and allows guys to get their names out there.”

A small graduating 2015 class of just two wrestlers, means several veterans return for the UNI squad. The Panthers return All-American Dylan Peters and three other NCAA national qualifiers with Blaize Cabell, Cody Caldwell and Cooper Moore. UNI finished 34th last year after having placed 15th two years in a row.