Bears pin 31-10 loss on Huskies

The St. Louis Arch is symbolic of bridging the gap to the West. Last Monday, however, the NIU wrestling team (1-3) was unable to bridge a similar gap as NIU fell to a more experienced Southwest Missouri State University 31-10.

Using a lineup featuring six freshmen and four sophomores, NIU went in trying for a repeat of last year’s 28-10 win in DeKalb. However, only two of NIU’s 10 wrestlers took part in that encounter. Against a group including five sophomores, a junior and two seniors, the Huskies faced tough odds going in.

Even so, Shannon Gregory got NIU off to a good start with an 11-6 win at 118 pounds to put the visitors on top 3-0. After that, SMSU took over with two pins and a 4-1 win at 134 to take a 15-3 lead through four matches. A draw at 150 pounds by James Spillman preserved the 12-point margin, until SMSU was penalized a team point for unsportsmanlike conduct after the match. The penalty’s impact was insignificant as SMSU captured four of the final five matches. NIU’s only other team points came in Courtney Pitter’s draw at 177 pounds.

“With only one letterman in the lineup (190-pounder Mel Heckman), a lot of times we have these fears of inconsistency,” Huskie coach Ed Vatch said. “Today our fear was valid.”

For the Huskies, the schedule doesn’t get any easier. NIU does compete at home this Thursday at 7:30 p.m., against Northwestern University.