The NIU wrestling team returns home Friday, Jan. 14, to play host to Mid-American Conference foe Ohio University at Victor E. Court in the Convocation Center after completing a challenging stretch in its schedule.
The Huskies (2-7, 0-1) faced three ranked opponents last week when they took on Central Michigan at home Jan. 6 before traveling Jan. 8 to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to take on Minnesota and Iowa State at the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.
“We’ve wrestled one of the most competitive schedules wrestling four Big Ten teams, five teams ranked in the Top 20 and going to the National Duals,” NIU head coach Dave Grant said. “Our guys have done a great job. We’ve competed hard. We want to bring that intensity into our MAC dual meets.”
Northern Illinois heads into Friday’s match with the Bobcats looking to avenge a 29-7 setback to Ohio last season. With five of the 10 matches decided by 10 points or less, NIU’s contest with Ohio could have gone either way. With the Huskies fielding new wrestlers at seven different weight classes this season, Grant feels his team can close the gap from last year.
“This team is very different,” he said. “Our team is greatly improved from last year. I will say that Ohio has a quality team too. We’ve been fortunate to have some upperclassmen that have been the real backbone of the team.”
Seniors Bryan Deutsch (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City) and Vince Castillo (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) had solid showings over the weekend. Deutsch has won five of his last six matches, including two at the National Duals, and is currently riding a four-match winning streak. Castillo comes into Friday’s match with a lot of confidence having swept his two matches at Nationals over the weekend.
The first bout between the Huskies and Bobcats begins at 7 p.m.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.