The Northern Illinois wrestling team opened its season on the right foot with 13 placewinners Saturday at the EMU Open.
Eight of those placewinners came out of the open bracket, while five of NIU’s six freshman/sophomore wrestlers finished on the podium in their collegiate debuts.
“We learned a lot about ourselves as a team today,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig.
“We will take our notes and apply them to our training when we hit the mats on Monday. I believe we have a lot of potential to be realized through constant attention to detail in the mat room. Our young guys fought hard as well and garnered some valuable experience.”
The highest placer in the open brackets was Matt Mougin, who claimed third place at 174 pounds. Wrestling for the first time at his new weight class, Mougin rattled off three straight wins – outscoring those three opponents by a 24-3 margin – to advance to the semifinals. However, the Columbus Junction, Iowa, native dropped a 10-4 decision to eventual champion Mat Miller of the Naval Academy. He would rebound in the third-place match, though, with a 7-0 shutout of Michigan State’ Jake Proctor.
Jared Torrence opened the year at heavyweight with a fourth-place showing. His day began with a 3-1 win over Tiffin’s Kevin Christman to move on to the semifinals. However, he would fall in his next match against Andrew Tumlin of Findlay by a 6-5 margin, then drop a 4-1 match to Danny Miller of Navy.
Another Huskie who had a successful day at a new weight class was 149-pounder Rob Jillard.
He opened the day with a bang, pinning Tiffin’s Marco Gualtieri at 3:44, then shutting out Michigan’s John Evashevki by a 7-0 margin to move on to the quarterfinals to face Central Michigan’s Joey Kielbasa. After falling by a 6-3 score to Kielbasa, Jillard ran off three convincing wins in the consolation bracket, topping Eastern Michigan’s Justin Melick (14-8), Notre Dame (Ohio)’s Eric Burgey (fall at 2:38) and Central Michigan’s Jared Porter (6-2) to claim fifth place.
Five NIU wrestlers – Derek Elmore (125 pounds), Ethan Davis (141), Caleb Busson (174), Shane Rosenberry (184) and Arber Bebo (197) – took sixth place in their respective weight classes in the open brackets.
Over in the freshman/sophomore brackets, freshman Shawn Scott took home first place at 197 pounds. Following a close 2-1 win against Ashland’s Joe Brandt, Scott went on an impressive run through the following rounds. Outside of a forfeit in the quarterfinals, the Holly, Mich., native blasted both CMU’s Kurt Alder and Lincoln’s Archie Williams by 7-0 and 13-6 margins, respectively.
Fellow Michigander Andrew Morse took third place at 157 pounds. Morse opened the tournament with three strong victories, scoring two decisions and a technical fall by a combined score of 32-6. However, he was narrowly defeated by Louden Gordon of Notre Dame (Ohio), 4-3, before winning third place by way of a 2-0 decision over Ashland’s Zeb Beam.
The Huskies return to DeKalb for their home opener Saturday, Nov. 10, when they host Indiana, South Dakota State, Cleveland State and Tiffin in the Huskie Duals. The action starts at 10 a.m. in the NIU Convocation Center.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.