Wrestlers Kevin Fanta, Brad Dieckhaus earn NCAA berths at MAC Championships in Ohio

Kevin Fanta
Kevin Fanta

Senior Brad Dieckhaus and sophomore Kevin Fanta both secured bids in the NCAA Championships for the Northern Illinois wrestling team Sunday at the MAC Championships.

As a team, the Huskies finished fifth with 41 points, falling just a half-point behind Ohio for fourth. Central Michigan won the tournament title with 89 points, followed by Kent State, Eastern Michigan and the host Bobcats. Buffalo took sixth place on the day.

“I thought we came out strong and competed hard today,” said Huskie head coach Ryan Ludwig. “I was really proud of the individual effort of every single guy. It’s great to put six guys on the stand and two automatic qualifiers, but we’re anxious to see if we got any at-large bids.”

“We’re excited to move on to the next phase at nationals and challenge for All-American accolades.”

Dieckhaus began the day in dominating fashion with two wins by pinfall. In the opening round, the St. Charles, Mo., native flattened Justin Lozano of Buffalo with a pin late in the first period. His semifinal matchup was a rematch of the 2011 MAC title bout at 184 pounds, with Dieckhaus taking on Kent State’s Casey Newburg.

This time, though, was not nearly as close. With a sizeable lead late in the third period, Dieckhaus earned his second pin of the day when the mat was slapped at 6:48 to set up a Dieckhaus-Ben Bennett final.

Dieckhaus, though, could not defend his MAC title at 184 pounds, falling to CMU’s Bennett in the championship, 8-1. The Huskie senior would successfully defend second place when he defeated Ohio’s Ryan Garringer, 4-1.

Brad Dieckhaus
Brad Dieckhaus

Fanta exacted a bit of revenge on his run to the finals.

After receiving a bye into the semifinals, the Huskie 141-pounder would need to beat Buffalo’s Kevin Smith – whom he lost to by 3-1 decision Feb. 18 – to move on. Undeterred, Fanta squeaked by UB’s Smith with a 4-3 decision to set up another regular season rematch in the finals against Kent State’s Tyler Small.

However, Fanta’s run came to an end in the finals when Small scored a 6-0 decision. His second-place finish was good enough for an NCAA auto bid at 141 pounds.

Rob Jillard pulled off an incredible run to the finals at 133. The sophomore avenged a regular season loss to Ohio’s Andrew Hammer in the opening round with a quick pin at 58 seconds. In the semifinals, Jillard upset second-seeded Steve Mitcheff of Kent State to move on to the finals against Horan.

Leading 3-2 with time winding down in the third period, Mitcheff managed to get a single-leg takedown on Jillard. Yet, the Franklinville, N.J., native persevered and held off the takedown for the win.

Jillard’s run came to an end in the 133-pound final when CMU’s Zach Horan earned a 5-0 win. The NIU sophomore fell to third when he lost to Eastern Michigan’s Andrew Novak in the true second match.

Matt Mougin also rebounded from an early loss to place fourth at 165 pounds. Despite holding an early lead in the opening round, Mougin dropped a 10-5 decision against Kent State’s Ross Tice. The sophomore quickly brushed off that loss, though, when he scored a 13-4 major decision versus Lester France of EMU to advance to the third-place match. The native of Columbus Junction, Iowa, finished his day when he was pinned by KSU’s Tice

Caleb Busson also won fourth place in 174 pounds by rattling off two-straight victories. Upon losing to EMU’s Phillip Joseph, 3-2, in overtime, the sophomore defeated Anthony Bill of CMU with a 3-2 decision. Busson capped off his day with a 8-2 loss against Buffalo’s Jake Waste.

Senior Mike Lukowski put the finishing touches on his Huskie career with his second MAC placing in as many years. His day, though, got off to a rocky start after a 5-2 loss against Craig Kelliher of CMU. He rebounded with a 4-1 victory against Justin Heiserman of Buffalo to set up a rematch against Kelliher. Lukowski, though, would lose by a slim 1-0 margin.

Nick Smith nearly punched his ticket to St. Louis at 125 pounds with a win in the consolation bracket. Following a semifinal loss to CMU’s Joe Roth, Smith rebounded with a commanding 15-8 decision in the consolation semifinals against Gabe Ramos of Ohio.

In the third-place bout against Jared Germaine of Eastern Michigan, Smith fell by a 9-5 decision. His hold on an automatic bid fell through when he lost Buffalo’s Max Soria, 19-8, for true fourth place.

The final at-large spots and the official NCAA brackets will be announced at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, on NCAA.com.

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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email