The Northern Illinois wrestling team returns Saturday afternoon to the friendly confines of the NIU Convocation Center, where it will take on Michigan State in the Showcase Meet.
The meet between the Huskies and Spartans begins at 2 p.m. Saturday’s matchup marks the third time in four years that the two schools have met, with MSU taking the previous two meetings.
“The Showcase Meet is unique in that it provides all the student-athletes with the opportunity to compete in an environment created specifically to wrestle a nationally-significant NCAA Division I dual meet,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig.
“There is a big crowd on hand and people are fired up. Sometimes dual meets around the country are wrestled in a quiet gym with little fanfare. This event aims to provide the first-class experience that these young men deserve and that fans and competitors at NIU can expect.”
NIU is back in dual action after a highly successful weekend at the Kaufman-Brand Open in St. Louis, where the team placed 14 wrestlers.
Rob Jillard paced the team with a first place showing at 149 pounds, while Andrew Morse took second at 157 and Jared Torrence was third at heavyweight. Matt Mougin won the tournament’s award for most pins, recording five in 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, the Spartans come into DeKalb with a 1-1 record and face Big Ten rival Wisconsin Friday night. MSU’s lone win came Nov. 16 when they toppled Eastern Michigan, 25-11, while they lost two weeks later to No. 17 Edinboro, 22-12.
“Michigan State has a well-balanced dual meet squad,” Ludwig said. “They have several highly talented wrestlers on that team. We saw a bit of them at the EMU Open, but everyone has made strides since then. We will need to wrestle with intensity and leave it all on the mat for as long as it takes.
“Each man will need to bring total focus to every minute of his match. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
One of the main headliners for the Spartans on the mat is junior Mike McClure, who is a perfect 11-0 on the season and ranked 10th in the nation at heavyweight. Seniors Dan Osterman (149) and David Cheza (157) will also figure greatly into the MSU lineup.