The Northern Illinois University wrestling team opened its season Sunday at the Michigan State Open by placing four wrestlers on the podium.
Derek Elmore (Loves Park, Ill./Harlem) and Shawn Scott (Holly, Mich./Holly) both took fifth-place finishes at 125 and 197 pounds, respectively, on the open side of the tournament. Quinton Rosser (Cincinnati, Ohio/Archbishop Moeller) placed second at fresh/soph 184 pounds, while Steve Bleise (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) finished fourth at fresh/soph 149.
“We’re not counting so much podium stuff, but we’re looking for things to work on,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “We did get some nice, quality wins on the day from a few individuals. That is what it is all about, building your case to get to the NCAA tournament. That’s why we come to such great competitions early in the season.”
Elmore opened his senior season in a big way, pinning Ian Ross of Lake Erie midway through the first period. After taking a loss to West Virginia’s Zeke Moisey in the following round, Elmore bounced back with a medical forfeit win, then pinned Columbia’s Johnson Mai in 30 seconds to advance to the fifth place match. He finished the day by downing Aaron Assad of Purdue in a 15-4 major decision.
In the 197 bracket, Scott started the tournament in a similar way to Elmore, downing Central Michigan’s Jimmy Szep with a 15-2 major decision. Though the native of Holly, Mich., was dealt a loss by Max Huntley of Michigan, Scott rebounded with a 10-6 decision over West Virginia’s Jake Smith, then won a forfeit to move on to the fifth place match – a bout he would win in a 10-5 decision against Michigan’s Chris Heald.
On the fresh/soph side, Rosser was dominant in his first match at 184, defeating Tyler Hughes of Lake Erie with a 10-4 decision. The freshman moved on with an 8-5 win over Eastern Michigan’s Derek Hillman, then topped Jake Masengale of Indiana in overtime, 4-2, to move into the finals. In the title match, Rosser fell via technical fall to Garret Lineberger of Notre Dame (Ohio).
Bleise rolled through the 149 bracket early on. The Chelsea, Mich., native pinned Seth Ferguson of Indiana Tech to open his run, then squeezed out a 6-4 win in sudden victory against Kent State’s Casey Sparkman. In the quarterfinals, Bleise topped Michigan’s Malik Amine before dropping an 8-5 decision to Ohio’s Cullen Cummings. He ended the day with a 14-4 loss to Central Michigan’s Justin Oliver.
The Huskies open the dual portion of the schedule Sunday, Nov. 9, when they head to Champaign for the Illini Quad. In addition to the host Fighting Illini, NIU also faces Rider and SIU Edwardsville
For more information on NIU wrestling and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.