Wrestlers prepare for Central, Eastern Michigan

Nick Smith
Nick Smith

The Northern Illinois wrestling team continues with Mid-American Conference action this weekend, as it hits the road to battle Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan.

The Huskies will travel to Mt. Pleasant to take on defending MAC champion Central Michigan Friday at 6:30 p.m. NIU follows that up with a Sunday afternoon bout against the EMU Eagles in Ypsilanti.

“We’re looking for max effort this weekend and an extreme level of intensity,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “We know our techniques. It is just applying them at our highest intensity and being able to grind out the small battles to win our matches.”

“We’re competing against two very tough MAC teams (and) we’re very optimistic going into these duals.”

The Huskies will be looking to rebound from a tough conference loss Friday, Jan. 13, to Ohio.

Despite wins by Kevin Fanta and Mike Lukowski, NIU was unable to gain any momentum against the Bobcats in a 27-6 loss. The defeat was only the third time this season that NIU failed to get a major decision, technical fall or pin in a dual.

Northern’s lineup, though, will be bolstered by the return of Nick Smith at 125. Smith missed the last three competitions due to a minor knee injury.

The No. 19 Chippewas enter Friday’s dual as the MAC leader in the standings with an 11-2 mark overall and a perfect 3-0 mark in conference action. Fittingly, CMU’s only two losses have come to No. 4 Minnesota and No. 14 Maryland. They are led on the mats by Mike Ottinger and Ben Bennett, who occupy the top spots in the MAC at 165 and 184, respectively.

In the all-time series, the Chippewas own a 23-12-2 advantage, having won the last eight meetings between the two schools. The Huskies will be looking for their first win against the Chippewas since Jan. 31, 2003, when they upset 13th-ranked CMU, 16-15, in DeKalb.

The Eagles, meanwhile, have surprised many with a 9-4 record overall and 1-1 in the MAC thus far in 2011-12. Jared Germaine, Andrew Novak and Aaron Sulzer lead EMU with a combined record of 48-17 this season.

“Derek DelPorto has done a great job over there elevating that program and they have a nice team right now,” Ludwig said. “But we’re looking to go in and compete at our highest level and come home with a dual meet victory.”

The Huskies own a 25-2-1 edge in the series against EMU and have won the last two meetings and nine of the last ten. Additionally, NIU will be looking to continue their streak of success in Ypsilanti, as the Huskies have never lost in Ypsilanti since moving to the major college ranks in 1969.

For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.

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