NIU’s wrestling team opens a big weekend of competition Thursday, Jan. 6, when the Huskies welcome No. 17 Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference opener to Victor E. Court in the NIU Convocation Center.
The first bout is set for 7 p.m.
“We’re not changing our approach,” said NIU head coach Dave Grant of the conference opener. “We want to go out and wrestle hard, be aggressive and score points. I’ve been really impressed this year with our guys’ ability to take challenges and compete hard.”
The Huskies will face another ranked opponent Saturday, Jan. 8, and Sunday, Jan. 9, when NIU travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to compete in the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals at Northern Iowa’s UNI Dome. Northern Illinois, which was invited to the national duals a few weeks ago, will open the tournament with No. 5 Minnesota. This will be the Huskies first trip to the NWCA National Duals since Jan. 14, 2006.
“I told our guys, we’ve wrestled good competition all year long,” Grant said. “Our schedule is a tough schedule and this weekend shouldn’t be any different than what we’re used to. Wrestling a great schedule allows our guys to improve their individual national ranking.
“We’re going to be wrestling two top teams in Central Michigan and Minnesota. We feel we’re ready to wrestle.”
The field of 16 teams includes 13 ranked squads, including the aforementioned Chippewas. There will also be 74 Top-10 wrestlers at the event, including three No. 1-ranked grapplers. With a win over the Gophers, NIU will face the winner of the No. 5 Boise State/Iowa State match. A loss and the Huskies face the loser of the same match. The first session begins 9 a.m.
Northern Illinois heads into Thursday night’s match looking to build on a successful showing at the 48th Annual Midlands Championships hosted by Northwestern University.
Senior Bryan Deutsch (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City) took seventh place at 157. Deutsch, the fifth seed, won four of his six matches and scored two victories via pin. Both pins came on the second day of the tournament, including 2:26 pin fall win over Donnie Tasser in the seventh place match. His other pin of the day came over Eastern Michigan’s Aaron Sulzer in 2:52.
Fellow senior Tristen DeShazer (Wichita, Kan./West) also had a strong performance at Midlands competing at 141, recording three pins, including the fastest pinfall of the tournament, dropping No. 9 seed Trevor Melde of Rutgers in 15 seconds.
Freshman Nick Smith (Ida, Mich./Ida) also had an impressive showing at 125 in his first career Midlands Championship. Smith advanced to the second day of competition by defeating Lehigh’s Mitch Berger, but fell to No. 3 seed Jarrod Patterson of Oklahoma in the match to place. Both DeShazer and Smith broke into the rankings by virtue of their performances last week.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.