The Northern Illinois wrestling team went back and forth with Buffalo Saturday afternoon, but it was the Huskies who emerged with a 20-18 win.
The win boosts NIU’s record to 8-8 overall and 1-4 in the Mid-American Conference, while UB falls to 1-10 and 1-4 in the MAC.
“We talked about banding together as brothers coming into today,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “We wanted to come out as a group of 10 and our guys pulled out a huge win today. I’m just proud of their efforts.”
The Huskies fell behind early, as the Bulls took two of the first three matches. Things started when Derek Elmore dropped a 10-0 major decision against 2012 NCAA qualifier Max Soria at 125 to give Buffalo a 4-0 lead.
However, NIU knotted things up when junior Nick Smith returned the favor in a dominant 16-4 major decision against Sean Walton at 133. UB retook the lead when Kevin Fanta lost to Erik Galloway in a 16-9 decision at 141.
That Bull lead would not last for long, though, as Rob Jillard came up with a big pin at 149 pounds. Jillard stuck Blake Ruolo midway through the second period to give NIU their first lead of the day at 10-7. NIU added to that lead when Andrew Morse scored an 11-2 major decision against Wally Maziarz, giving the Huskies a 14-7 lead at the intermission.
The Bulls responded out of the break when 12th-ranked Mark Lewandowski won by technical fall against NIU’s Sam Bennett. Buffalo looked to be in position to take the lead from the Huskies at 174, but Matt Mougin turned away the threat with a tight 7-6 win against Dom Montesanti to give Northern a 17-12 advantage.
Yet, UB did not relent and staged a late comeback. Bryan Loughlin dropped a 6-1 decision against Tony Lock, while Parker Settecase fell in a 5-2 decision against Angelo Malvestuto. The consecutive wins put the Huskies behind, 18-17, leaving the heavyweight match as the deciding factor.
With so much on the line, the match between Huskie Jared Torrence and UB’s Justin Heiserman did not disappoint. Torrence and Heiserman dueled to a 2-2 tie after three periods to send the match to sudden victory. It was there that the NIU heavyweight got one of, if not his biggest, win of his career when he scored a takedown to come away with a 4-2 decision and a Huskie win.
“Jared, as a team leader, came away with a big win,” Ludwig said. “He stayed within his plan and was able to come away with a win. The MAC is really tough at heavyweight, so this win should help him going forward.”
The Huskies end their regular season Sunday, Feb. 24, when they travel to Cleveland to battle Cleveland State and Gardner-Webb. The action starts at noon CT with NIU battling GWU’s Runnin’ Bulldogs.
Northern Illinois 20, Buffalo 18
125: Max Soria (UB) maj. dec. Derek Elmore (NIU), 10-0
133: Nick Smith (NIU) maj. dec. Sean Walton (UB), 16-4
141: Erik Galloway (UB) dec. Kevin Fanta (NIU), 16-9
149: Rob Jillard (NIU) pins Blake Ruolo (UB), 4:16
157: Andrew Morse (NIU) maj. dec. Wally Maziarz (UB), 11-2
165: #12 Mark Lewandowski (UB) tech. fall Sam Bennett (NIU), 15-0
174: Matt Mougin (NIU) dec. Dom Montesanti (UB), 7-6
184: Tony Lock (UB) dec. Bryan Loughlin (NIU), 6-1
197: Angelo Malvestuto (UB) dec. Parker Settecase (NIU), 5-2
285: Jared Torrence (NIU) dec. Justin Heiserman (UB), 4-2
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.