“We’ve been training for nine weeks,” Grant said. “So, it’s good to get started. Saturday is a big day for us. We’ll run into some great competition and it’s a great opportunity for our guys to start getting ranked nationally. We have a lot of guys I feel very strongly about that should be higher in the rankings.”
Last season at the Michigan State Open, 12 Huskies placed. Three NIU wrestlers took home titles in eight different weight classes, including senior Pat McLemore (Hinckley, Ohio/Padua Franciscan) at 141. McLemore, who enters the season as the No. 2 ranked wrestler at 141 in the Mid-American Conference as selected by MAC coaches, posted a 3-1 victory over teammate Tristen DeShazer (Wichita, Kan./Wichita West) in last week’s Huskie Wrestle-Offs.
Senior Bryan Deutsch (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City), who is currently ranked No. 19 in the country by Amateur Wrestling News and No. 1 in the MAC at 157, took second at last year’s Open. Zach Benzio (Connellsville, Pa./Connellsville Area), who is dropping down a weight this year, took third at Fresh/Soph 184 last year.
There is a crop of young wrestlers looking to make names for themselves this year Huskies competing this weekend and another returning to action after a year away from the mat. Brad Dieckhaus (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell) makes his return for NIU this weekend after missing all of last season with an injury. Redshirt freshmen Kevin Fanta (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich), Matt Mougin (Columbus Junction, Iowa/Columbus) and Nick Smith (Ida, Mich./Ida) will be competing this weekend at 133, 165 and 125 respectively and are looking to start their Huskie careers off on the right foot.
Competition begins at 8 a.m. Central Time. Fans can follow how the Huskies are doing throughout the day with live brackets at www.trackwrestling.com.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.