Despite facing an early 11-0 deficit, the Northern Illinois University wrestling team battled back Sunday afternoon to earn a 20-14 victory over Buffalo.
After spotting the Bulls (3-17, 0-8 MAC) the first three matches of the day, the Huskies (7-11, 2-6 MAC) won six of the remaining seven bouts to end the regular season with a victory.
“The dual started slow and then we were able to right the shop from 149 on up,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “Andrew Morse ground out a great win over a guy who tried hard to slow it down. (Sam) Bennett’s tech fall was huge for the team and Billy Chancey showed his grit in a big win at 174. Shawn Scott wrestled a dominant match over a tough opponent who has several nice wins.”
UB got on the board first when Nick Harrison dropped an 11-1 major decision to 2013 NCAA qualifier Max Soria to give the Bulls a quick 4-0 lead. The hosts boosted their lead to seven, as Derek Elmore lost a tight 7-5 decision at the hands of Justin Farmer at 133 pounds.
At 141, Tyler Argue suffered an 11-3 loss against Nick Flannery to give UB their largest lead of the dual at 11-0. The Huskies’ fortunes would slowly turn in their favor, beginning with Rob Jillard’s close 6-4 victory against Ryan Todora.
Andrew Morse brought NIU to within five points, as he earned his 21st victory of the year in a 6-2 decision against Wally Maziarz at 157 pounds. Sam Bennett knotted the dual at 11-11 with a dominating 15-0 technical fall of Jake Campana.
Chancey gave NIU its first lead of the day with a low-scoring 2-1 win at 174 against Rrok Ndokaj. Yet, the Bulls put a stop to the Huskies’ run and tied the dual at 14-14 when Caleb Busson lost to Tony Lock, 3-1.
With two matches left in a dealocked dual, NIU seized control when Shawn Scott topped Angelo Malvestuto in a 6-1 decision at 197. However, Buffalo still had a chance to tie the dual and win on criteria, Jared Torrence closed the door on that possibility by earning a 7-4 win against James Benjamin.
The Huskies open postseason play in just under two weeks, as they head to Kent, Ohio, for the 2014 Mid-American Conference Championships. The tournament starts Saturday, March 8, and runs through Sunday, March 9, inside Kent State’s M.A.C. Center.
NIU 20, Buffalo 14
125: Max Soria (UB) maj. dec. Nick Harrison (NIU), 11-1
133: Justin Farmer (UB) dec. Derek Elmore (NIU), 7-5
141: Nick Flannery (UB) maj. dec. Tyler Argue (NIU), 11-3
149: Rob Jillard (NIU) dec. Ryan Todora (UB), 6-4
157: Andrew Morse (NIU) dec. Wally Maziarz (UB), 6-2
165: Sam Bennett (NIU) tech. fall Jake Campana (UB), 15-0
174: Billy Chancey (NIU) dec. Rrok Ndokaj (UB), 2-1
184: Tony Lock (UB) dec. Caleb Busson (NIU), 3-1
197: Shawn Scott (NIU) dec. Angelo Malvestuto (UB), 6-1
285: Jared Torrence (NIU) dec. James Benjamin (UB), 7-4
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.