Eighteen wrestlers, including nine true freshmen or redshirt freshmen, battled for spots in Northern Illinois’ starting lineup.
“I was pleased with the way we competed out there,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “There was a lot of fire, competition, desire to score points. I was pleased with our conditioning. That being said, we do have some things to work on technically, so we’ll get back and work on those during the week.”
The closely competitive meet went in favor of the Black team, who topped Red by a 17-14 margin. In the nine main matches and two exhibitions, all but four were determined by four points or less.
The top match of the day arguably came at the 141 weight class, where Kevin Fanta battled Shawn Fayette. With Fayette up 5-4 late in the third period, Fanta notched an escape, then managed to get a takedown with only seconds left in the match to take a 7-5 decision.
Shortly afterwards, freshman Tyler Loethen snuck past Sam Bennett, 2-1, at 157. After leading 1-0 in the third period, Loethen was penalized for stalling within the last 20 seconds. However, the Jefferson City, Mo., native scored an escape with mere seconds left to take the win.
The two lightweight classes featured two quick, high-scoring matches resulting in major decisions for each team. At 125, Nick Smith held off freshman Nick Harrison with a 19-11 win. Meanwhile, Rob Jillard dominated Jason Montemayor, 19-5, in the 133 class.
Matt Smith topped Steven Bradley, 7-5, at 149, while Arber Bebo defeated Austin Pickering by major decision, 18-4, to lock up the meet for Black.
“With competitive matches, that’s exactly what we’ve been striving for,” Ludwig said. “It’s competition. With more competition comes stronger starters in those positions. If you get pushed for a starting spot, it’s basically like the cream rising to the top.”
The three other wins for Red came at 174, where Caleb Busson emerged victorious over Dan Burk, 5-1; 197, with Mike Lukowski’s 19-5 win against Shane Rosenberry; and heavyweight, where Jared Torrence survived Parker Settecase’s late barrage of shots to win, 3-2.
In two exhibition matches, Thorian Twyner defeated Derek Elmore, 7-5, and Matt Frisch won against Ethan Davis, 4-3.
“I thought we competed hard today,” Ludwig said. “I’m impressed with the way our guys came out and after it. They battled each other and we’re going to continue to work with our starting lineup and go from there.”
The Huskies kick off their regular season next Sunday, Nov. 6, when they host North Central and Stanford inside Victor E. Court at the Convocation Center.
125: Nick Smith (Black) maj. dec. Nick Harrison (Red), 19-11
133: Rob Jillard (Red) maj. dec. Jason Montemayor (Black), 19-5
141: Kevin Fanta (Black) dec. Shawn Fayette (Red), 7-5
149: Matt Smith (Black) dec. Steven Bradley (Red), 7-5
157: Tyler Loethen (Black) dec. Sam Bennett (Red), 2-1
165: No Match
174: Caleb Busson (Red) dec. Dan Burk (Black), 5-1
184: Arber Bebo (Black) maj. dec. Austin Pickering (Red), 18-4
197: Mike Lukowski (Red) maj. dec. Shane Rosenberry (Black), 19-5
HWT: Jared Torrence (Red) dec. Parker Settecase (Black), 3-2
Courtesy of Michael Benson, Graduate Assistant, Huskie Media Relations, Northern Illinois University