“I think our guys wrestled extremely well,” said NIU head coach Dave Grant. “We had some really close matches. I thought we competed well and were aggressive. We had opportunities. It comes down to when you have to score the points, you have to be focused on the task at hand.”
After losing the first three bouts of the match, Northern Illinois (2-5) came back to win three of the next four to pull within three of the Chippewas, 13-10. Seniors Tristen DeShazer (Wichita, Kan./West) and Bryan Deutsch (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City) led the way. DeShazer put the Huskies on the board with a 4-1 victory over Scott Sentes at 141.
Deutsch came out on the attack in his match at 157, scoring a takedown and three-point nearfall to open a 5-0 lead in the first period. Two escapes in the second period gave him a 7-2 lead heading into the final period. Another takedown and riding time allowed Deutsch to score a 10-2 major decision win over Ryan Cubberly. Matt Mougin (Columbus Junction, Iowa/Columbus) scored a 7-5 over Central Michigan’s Eric Cubberly to pull NIU within striking distance.
After a major decision victory by Ben Bennett extended the CMU lead to 18-10, Brad Dieckhaus (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell Central) earned a hard-fought 3-1 decision over Chad Friend at 184 to give the Huskies and opportunity to win the match.
NIU headed into the final bout trailing, 18-13, needing a technical fall for a tie or a pin for the win. Mike Lukowski (East Dundee, Ill./Dundee-Crown) battled Craig Kelliher at 197, but fell, 4-3, giving CMU the win.
The Huskies will face another ranked opponent this weekend 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.
“We have a big weekend coming up,” Grant said. “We wrestle Minnesota. We’re wrestling good teams. We talked about taking this team from good to great. We’re in a position now to start focusing on the little things that will make a difference in a match.”
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.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.