Huskie sophomore Kevin Fanta and senior Brad Dieckhaus will represent Northern Illinois at the 2012 NCAA Championships in St. Louis, Mo., the association announced Wednesday during their selection show.
The selections mark the 41st consecutive season in which at least one NIU wrestler has advanced to the national meet. It also marks the second straight year and 13th time in the last 14 season in which multiple Huskies have qualified.
“Qualifying for the NCAA Tournament is a fantastic accomplishment,” said Huskie head coach Ryan Ludwig. “However, qualifying only opens the door to accomplish the real goals we have here, which is standing on the podium on Saturday night. ”
Fanta will head to the NCAA Championships for the first time in his career after building a 13-5 record on the season at 141 pounds and a second-place finish at the Mid-American Conference Championships.
His first opponent in St. Louis will be Nick Dardanes of Minnesota, who enters the tournament as the ninth seed in 141 pounds after recording a 19-8 mark and a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten tournament.
Dieckhaus’ swan song will begin against Binghampton’s Nathan Schiedel – the Colonial Athletic Association’s runner-up at 184 pounds with a 28-8 record. The Huskie senior posted a 14-1 record and a second-place finish at the MAC Championships this year and will look to complete his career on a high note just a few miles from his hometown of St. Charles, Mo.
“Brad Dieckhaus has been extremely focused all year on his national goals and is hungry to compete in front of his home crowd in St. Louis,” Ludwig said. “It will be good for Fanta to have a teammate with NCAA Tournament experience to share in his first nationals experience. Kevin is fired up to be headed to St. Louis. He is dialed in and ready to compete.”
The NCAA Championships will take place from Thursday, March 15, through Saturday, March 17, at the Scottrade Center in downtown St. Louis, Mo. Fans can get ticket information at NCAA.com/tickets or follow the tournament all three days on ESPNU and ESPN3.