CEDAR FALLS -- Every time Jay Schwarm walks into Northern Iowa's wrestling room inside the West Gym there are several certainties.

Schwarm will work on getting better on his feet. Schwarm will work at getting better at getting out from bottom. He will continue to perfect the position he is best at -- top.

But in addition to those, the red-shirt sophomore from Bettendorf, who is off to a 19-7 start and was ranked 17th in the first NCAA Wrestling Coaches rankings, is thinking about getting better at things he hasn't even seen in his first 26 matches.

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Asked recently what he needs to continue to do from now until the Big 12 Conference tournament in Tulsa, Okla. on March 3-4 to continue his rise up the national scene, Schwarm said nothing different than what he has been doing.

"I don't think anyone in the country at my weight is trying to improve everywhere like I am," said Schwarm, who went 15-10 last year as a redshirt freshman, manning the 125-pound slot in UNI's line-up while two-time all-American Dylan Peters recovered from injury.

"I think guys are trying to improve where they are already good at," Schwarm continued. "I'm trying to improve on positions I haven't even been at in matches just because I want to be able to wrestle everywhere. That is what I'm working on in the room daily."

UNI head coach Doug Schwab says he loves the way Schwarm attacks every day, every practice and workout with a purpose.

A two-time state champion and three-time state finalist for Bettendorf showed signs of what he was capable of when he knocked off then 20th-ranked Barlow McGee, 5-1, in a dual last season.

Then with a new dedication in the weight room to get stronger Schwarm has went from the guy manning the Panthers' 125-pound slot to a guy getting talked about nationally.

Schwarm opened with a fifth place at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, which included a win over sixth-ranked Ryan Millhof of Arizona State. He won the Harold Nichols and Grand View Opens, and was second at the Southern Scuffle, losing only to defending national champion Darian Cruz of Lehigh.

"Consistency," Schwab said of Schwarm's 2017-18 season to date. "I love how he is competing. He comes out ready to wrestle every single time. He is one confident SOB right now and I just love how he competes."

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Schwam says his growth as a collegiate wrestler was a combination of learning not only who he was as a competitor but as a person.

Both Schwarm and Schwab say he was probably hanging on to things to tight last year making each match a life and death matter. That is no longer the case.

"Learning how I tick has kind of made things easier, especially in the room when where I now have more of a purpose," Schwarm said. "I'm having more fun and when I'm having more fun it is a lot easier to get better at wrestling.

"I love big matches and the spotlight. That is exciting. I used to look at it as nerve racking. But now it is an opportunity to show how much I have improved and about having fun."

This article is written by Jim Nelson from Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.