Test for UNI wrestlers is not multiple choice

Courtesy of the WCF Courier

CEDAR FALLS – Later this month, the Northern Iowa wrestling team will have an optional training camp.

“Optional” is a word new head coach Doug Schwab rarely digs out of his vocabulary.

In fact, he used it delicately during a recent interview at his West Gym office.

“Our guys want more than what they had and if you want more success … they have to understand you are going to have to change, be open-minded and be willing to work,” Schwab said. “We have had a good group of guys working out consistently with our Panther Wrestling Club, and I can tell you those guys in there are making gains. They know it and they feel it. Once they start feeling it, they want more of it.”

Getting his hands on his wrestlers and beginning to mold them in his attacking, aggressive style of wrestling is just one thing Schwab has been grappling with since his hire in mid-May.

Recruiting started in earnest on July 1 with an open contact period for Division I coaches.

“There is some work to do there,” said Schwab. “I’m trying to get the message out to recruits that there is a new direction with the program. I wish I had six kids already signed up, but we are making progress.

“We’re going to go after the best kids, but there is something to be said about a homegrown Iowa boy. I love the state of Iowa and the kids that come from this state.

“At the same time, we want to get the right kind of kid who is willing to do the right things on a daily basis, and more importantly wants to be a Northern Iowa Panther.”

Additionally, Schwab has been recruiting alumni.

“I’ve been contacting the past national champions, the past all-Americans, all the alumni in order to get them back involved with the program,” said Schwab. “We have great history here and that history is important to me and getting the alumni back involved in one form or another is important.

“Whether it is just being in the stands and using their hands and voice to spur on our guys or if it is making donations to our club program or toward future renovations, we need them all involved.”

While burning the midnight oil here in Cedar Falls, Schwab has been making the 170-mile round trip from Iowa City to Cedar Falls daily while trying to sell his Iowa City home.

He and his family will be living in Cedar Falls, house sold or not, by the time school starts in August, he said. Until then, like he’ll expect his athletes to live their lives, Schwab uses his (travel) time wisely.

“I return a lot of messages,” quipped Schwab. “But my wife is ready to start our life here and be part of the community and be involved. That is hard to do an hour and 15 minutes away. So that has been tough.”

As far as internal issues with his program since May, there haven’t been many.

Two-time national qualifier Trenton Washington is no longer with the program, while only one member of what many pundits consider a top-20 recruiting class has been lost.

North Dakota’s Joe Latham has decided to look elsewhere, but Levi Wolfensperger and Blake Sorensen of Denver-Tripoli, Columbus Junction’s Seth Noble, Kevin Sherrill of Atlanta (Ga.), Ballard’s Brock Weatherman and Don Bosco’s Clay Welter and Taylor Kettman are all on board.

Additionally, while not 100 percent official, Janesville native Tolly Thompson appears set to join Schwab’s coaching staff as a volunteer assistant.

Schwab’s era officially opens on Nov. 13 when the Panthers compete in the Northwestern Duals in Evanston, Ill., before Old Dominion rolls into the West Gym on Nov. 20.

Until then Schwab said everything remains work in progress.

“It’s been busy, yes, but it’s also been exciting,” said Schwab. “There has been plenty to do and there will continue to be plenty to do.

“I don’t want to have a program that hopes to have an all-American this year. That is not what we are working toward. We’re working for multiple all-Americans and national champions on a yearly basis.”