The NIU wrestling team kicked off its 2014-15 campaign Friday night with its annual Red/Black Dual at Victor E. Court. The Red squad, who started out with a 15-3 lead, emerged victorious after the Black squad rallied back within four points to clinch the dual, 21-15.
“I get super-fired up watching these guys step onto the mat and compete in real-time matches, and tonight I thought these guys brought a high level of intensity, and that’s what we were looking for. We were looking for fire and big gas tanks. We saw that and we’re happy,” said head coach Ryan Ludwig.
The Red team earned three-straight decisions with wins by Arthur Bunce (Munith, Mich./Dansville) at 285 pounds, Derek Elmore (Loves Park, Ill./Harlem) at 125 pounds and Jordan Northrup (Machesney Park, Ill./Harlem) at 133. During the 141 pound bout, Tyler Argue (Matteson, Ill./Mt. Carmel) put the Black team on the scoreboard with his 5-3 decision.
The 157 pound match ended in injury forfeit as Austin Culton (Sycamore, Ill./Sycamore) took six points with Gabe Morse’s (Alto, Mich./Lowell) injury, swaying the team score to 15-3.
The Black squad then earned two-consecutive major decisions to nearly level the score at 15-11 as Andrew Morse (Alto, Mich./Lowell) and Trace Engelkes (Winnebago, Ill./Winnebago) earned the victories at 7-0 and 13-1, respectively.
However, it was Rosser who would have last say in the team score as he pinned Repp to put the Red squad back on top, 21-11. The Black squad’s Shawn Scott (Holly, Mich./Holly) closed the dual with another major decision, 13-4, to round out exhibition, 21-15.
Coach Ludwig was impressed by the Black team’s spirit in the match and credits the older guys for rallying back.
“We were looking for the older guys to really stick to the game plan that best suits their game. They’ve found that level of maturity and understanding of what kind of matches they want to wrestle and they’re developing that very well,” he said.
“Moving forward, I think we can improve on our shot defense and of course when we’re on the bottom. It’s an area that you want improve on all year long,” Ludwig said. “I thought our attacks were great and our pace on our feet was great. We just saw small things that we need to improve on and I thought everyone looked good but you always want to get better.”
Friday’s dual served as a precursor to the Huskies season opener next weekend in East Lansing, Mich., where NIU will head to the Michigan State Open to officially start the season.
The Michigan State Open will begin at 8 a.m. CT Sunday, Nov. 2. NIU then will head south Sunday, Nov. 9, for a quad meet in Urbana-Champaign to take on Rider, SIUE and the Illini.
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.