Despite the losses, Huskie head coach Ryan Ludwig was proud of what Fanta and Dieckhaus accomplished this season and knows it will help bring the program to new heights.
“It should always be motivation for those that pave the way to inspire and lead others,” he said. “The expectations in this program right now demand that young, emerging leaders accept and overcome the national level challenges laid before them. This is a stepping stone as we continue to build and strive for excellence.”
Fanta dropped his first match of the day at 141 pounds in a 12-4 major decision against ninth-seeded Nick Dardanes of Minnesota.
The Huskie sophomore had the nationally ranked Golden Gopher on his toes early, stuffing Dardanes’ shots for a 2-1 Minnesota lead through one period. Fanta was still within striking distance with a 5-1 deficit through two, but Dardanes took control of the match in the third period to score the win.
His wrestleback match with Iowa State’s Luke Goettl was not any better, as Fanta was pinned in 1:39. Despite registering an early takedown, the Cyclones’ 141-pounder got a quick escape-takedown combo that put Fanta on his back and unable to recover.
“Fanta had a good year and is buying into what the coaching staff is preaching,” Ludwig said. “He’s got a taste of the show now and he will be working relentlessly in the offseason to raise his level. I look forward to the bright future in Kevin.”
Dieckhaus opened his final NCAA tournament with an 8-4 defeat at the hands of Binghamton’s Nathan Schiedel in the 184-pound bracket. Following a scoreless first period, the two maintained that deadlock well into the second period in a classic battle of opposing styles between Dieckhaus’ strength and Schiedel’s speed.
The turning point of the match, though, came when the Huskie senior tweaked his ankle halfway into the middle period. Following injury time, the dinged-up Dieckhaus gave up an escape and a takedown to trail 3-0 through two.
The Bearcats’ junior clinched the match early in the third period with a reversal, takedown and riding time, while Dieckhaus could only muster an escape and takedown.
That ankle injury forced Dieckhaus to forfeit his wrestleback match against Purdue’s Braden Atwood, bringing the senior’s time at the NCAA tournament to a premature close.
“Brad has been battling serious injuries, including one sustained at the MAC Championship,” Ludwig said. “His level of determination and mental fortitude is unparalleled. In rising up to compete at NCAAs in his condition was a testament to just that.”
“I’m extremely proud of his effort today and throughout his career at NIU. He embodies the Huskie spirit.”
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.