The Northern Illinois wrestling team got out to a quick start Sunday, but couldn’t keep the momentum going as they fell to Eastern Michigan, 22-9.
The loss drops the Huskies to 6-7 on the year and 0-4 in Mid-American Conference play, while the Eagles improved to 11-4 and 2-1 in the MAC.
The loss was also the first time that NIU had lost in Ypsilanti since they moved to the major college ranks.
The Huskies controlled the tempo of the match early, winning two of the first three matches to take a 6-3 lead on EMU. Nick Smith started the day with an emphatic 13-6 win against No. 17 Jared Germaine at 125. The victory was the sophomore’s 11th on the year and first since missing three meets with an injury.
“Nick Smith’s win against a nationally-ranked opponent bodes well for getting an automatic qualifier to the conference,” said Huskie head coach Ryan Ludwig. “It was a gutsy performance because he wasn’t feeling well this weekend. Just to have the determination to go out there and pick up a win was great for him.”
After Rob Jillard dropped a 10-6 decision to Andrew Novak in the 133-pound match, NIU retook the lead when Kevin Fanta handled Corey Phillips, 11-5, to give the Huskies a 6-3 lead after three matches. Fanta’s triumph was his third straight win in MAC competition.
The Eagles, though, would take control of the match with six straight wins, starting with a hard-fought bout in the 149-pound match. Following a 2-2 tie after one period, freshman Tyler Argue recorded a takedown with one minute left to take a 4-2 lead after two. However, Jaylyn Bohl came back to tie and eventually take the lead in the third period, resulting in a 6-4 Huskie loss and a tie match.
EMU took the lead for good with the 157-pound match, when Aaron Sulzer topped Tyler Loethen, 7-1. Matt Mougin nearly got NIU back to a tie in the 165 match when he fought back to tie that match at 6-6 through two periods. However, Lester France would get the better of Mougin in the final period to take a 11-8 win.
The Eagles put the match out of reach after decisive wins in the 174-, 184- and 197-pound matches. The Huskies, though, made the margin closer when he defeated David Box at heavyweight, 3-1.
“Jared Torrence continues to make improvements with the way he competes,” Ludwig said. “He gets better every week.”
NIU hits the road for the final time in the regular season Friday, Feb. 3, when they take the short drive to Evanston, Ill., to battle the No. 17 Northwestern Wildcats. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. inside Welsh-Ryan Arena.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.