The NIU wrestling squad opens its regular season this weekend in a six-team tournament hosted by Northwestern University.
The tourney will give the young Huskies a chance to see where they stand as far as wrestling outside of practice.
“We’re taking a lot of freshmen with us,” said head coach Ed Vatch. “Almost half of our roster is comprised of freshmen. But they’ll be wrestling against other freshmen, and it will be a great opportunity to evaluate ourselves.”
The Huskies will partake in matches against host Northwestern as well as Marquette, Augustana, Chicago State, and Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Vatch explained that competition won’t be the normal tournament style.
“The officials will take all of the wrestlers and pool all the weight classes together,” said Vatch. “From there, they’ll come up with first round matches. After that, winners will wrestle winners and losers will wrestle losers.
“With this style, it prevents guys from facing one dominant opponent, unless they meet in the first round. It’s a chance for all the teams involved to see how their squads fare and where they can improve.”
Despite traveling without some regulars, Vatch feels confident that his squad will come home with a fair amount of victories.
“Obviously, when you wrestle against your own guys, you have higher expectations. But we’re really anxious to hit against some other schools and see how conditioned we are.
“It’s also a chance to preview some of the schools that we’ll face later in the year. We’ve got a lot of new faces, but we should do rather well.”