UNI crowns two Big 12 champions

TULSA, Okla. — The Northern Iowa wrestling team made an instant impact in its inaugural appearance in the Big 12 Championships, finishing second with a pair of winners on Sunday at the BOK Center.

UNI’s champions were crowned in back-to-back brackets, as top seeds Taylor Lujan and Drew Foster won at 174 and 184 pounds, respectively.

Lujan defeated SDSU’s David Kocer, 6-3, while Foster took down Northern Colorado’s Dylan Gabel, 5-1.

The Panthers’ other finalist, top-seeded Max Thomsen at 149, lost a 9-3 decision to Oklahoma State’s Boo Lewallen.

In all, UNI had six wrestlers secure their spots in the NCAA tournament with automatic bids: Jay Schwarm (125), Josh Alber (141), Thomsen, Lujan, Foster and Jacob Holschlag (197).

Oklahoma State won its sixth-straight team title, crowning four champions and finishing with 137 points. Northern Iowa was second with 96.5 points, just ahead of South Dakota State in third with 94.

Iowa State had no finalists and finished seventh with 51 points in the 12-team meet.

Iowa State’s top finisher was Jarrett Degen, who placed third at 149 to earn an automatic NCAA berth. Degen scored a 20-5 technical fall of Wyoming’s Sam Turner to secure third place.

Four other Cyclones reached the podium: Ian Parker was fifth at 141, Dane Pestano scored sixth at 184 and Marcus Harrington was fourth at heavyweight.