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Wrestlers open season Sunday with dual meet

November 4, 2011
Nick Smith

Nick Smith

The Huskie wrestling team will open its 2011-12 regular season Sunday, Nov. 6, as it welcomes nationally ranked Stanford and North Central to Victor E. Court in the Convocation Center.

The meet, which starts at 10 a.m., will serve as Northern Illinois head coach Ryan Ludwig‘s head coaching debut after taking over the program in May. It will also be the first time NIU has begun their dual season in DeKalb since the 2005-06 season, when they hosted Northwestern.

“After the dust settled from last week’s Wrestle-Offs, the guys are really looking forward to going into battle this weekend,” Ludwig said. “Both Stanford and North Central are very well coached and they will wrestle hard. There will be interesting matchups in all of the duals.”

The Huskies return 10 letterwinners and six starters from last year’s squad. Among the returnees are defending 184 pound MAC champion Brad Dieckhaus, Nick Smith (125), Kevin Fanta (141), and Mike Lukowski (197).

NIU also adds 2011 NCAA qualifier Rob Jillard, who wrestled at Liberty last season, to the mix.

Stanford comes to town as the No. 21 team in the nation, according to the NWCA Coaches’ Poll. The Cardinal will return Nick Amuchastegui, the defending NCAA runner-up at 174 pounds, and 2011 NCAA All-American Ryan Mango to their lineup. Stanford as a team finished in 11th place at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

“Stanford carries a team national ranking and they have a couple of returning All-American wrestlers,” Ludwig said. “I expect our wrestlers to come out with lots of fire and wrestle hard in every position. We need to establish a presence and stay on the attack.”

North Central, ranked 11th in the NWCA’s DIII poll, enters the season with three DIII All-Americans returning, as Joby Bodi, Jason Bonham and Nathan Fitzenreider will figure prominently for the Cardinals. Last season, the team went 6-1 in duals and placed 26th at the DIII Nationals.

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