Walk-off match pushes Huskies past Buffalo


Alyssa Queen

NIU redshirt senior Terrese Aaron takes on Buffalo’s Gregory Hodulick To close out the wrestling portion of the Beauty and the Beast meet on Saturday at the Convocation Center. (Alyssa Queen | Northern Star)

By Adrien De La Peña, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – NIU wrestling won in walk-off fashion against Mid-American Conference opponent University at Buffalo. Redshirt senior Terrese Aaron was able to come back and defeat his opponent in the final match of the dual to top the Bulls in a close 15-14 victory. 

This is the second week in a row that Aaron has been able to close out the dual and is helping the Huskies with what has been a struggle from the heavyweight wrestlers.

Earlier in the dual, redshirt junior Jaivon Jones sparked the Huskies’ momentum early with a 13-2 major decision. The spark from the lighter weights has been a significant reason why the Huskies have been able to outlast opponents this late in the season.

NIU redshirt senior Izzak Olejnik has been the face of NIU wrestling this whole season and proved why he is the 12th ranked wrestler at 165. Olejnik has bailed out the Huskies in certain situations down the stretch, but with this last match against the Buffalo Bulls, Olejnik flourished with two takedowns, out-scoring his opponent 6-0.

NIU’s win on Feb. 4 propelled the Huskies into a great spot going into the Mid-American Conference Championship. The Huskies take on the 5-2 Northwestern University Wildcats next week in a dual with multiple ranked opponents on the other side.


Lighter weights flourish

At 125, redshirt freshman Blake West started off the dual with a takedown and an escape with a 4-2 lead going into the third period. His opponent, Buffalo redshirt freshman Mason Bush,  logged two points early in the third period. Two massive takedowns from West would close out the third period with a huge match win for NIU. West’s win gave the Huskies a 3-0 lead in the dual.

NIU junior Lucian Brink came in at 133 against Buffalo redshirt junior Tommy Maddox. Brink started the match with a late takedown in the first period to go up early in the match 2-0. Still being up in the second and with another late takedown in the third period, Brink defeated his opponent Maddox 6-2 to push the Huskies lead in the dual to 6-0.


Buffalo gathers momentum

After three early match wins from NIU’s lighter weights, NIU graduate student Anthony Cheloni started off the match with an early takedown to go up 2-0 going into the second period. Cheloni would end up dropping his match against Buffalo redshirt freshman Kaleb Burgess late in the third with a reversal. Burgess’ victory over Cheloni put the Bills on the board with three points. The Huskies still led the dual 10-3.

NIU redshirt senior Anthony Gibson took on Buffalo redshirt senior Michael Petite at 157. The match was definitely one of the most anticipated as Gibson took down No. 27 ranked redshirt freshman Peyten Kellar in Buffalo’s last dual against Ohio University. 

In the match against Petite, Gibson was down early 6-2 in the second period. Gibson would rally with a takedown to tie up the match score 7-7 at the end of the third period. Gibson dropped the match 9-7, which would spark Buffalo’s momentum pushing the Bulls up another three points. The Huskies still led the dual 10-6 but the Bulls had all the momentum approaching the sixth match.


Electric finish for Beauty and the Beast dual

The last four matches in Saturday’s Beauty and the Beast dual showed the intensity and how important it is to close out each match late in the dual. Huskie redshirt freshman Hayden Pummel started off the sixth match against Buffalo redshirt sophomore Jay Nivision. 

Pummel would outlast Nivision, keeping it tied 1-1 going into the fourth period. Pummel ended up dropping the match against Nivision after two logged points with a 3-1 match score. Nivision’s victory would bring the Bulls up to nine points with the Huskies still leading 13-9 in the dual.

NIU junior Matthew Zuber and sophomore Jacob Christensen would both drop their matches late in the dual, putting the Bulls up 15-13 going into the final match. Late stretches have been a weak point for the Huskies after being upset by Central Michigan University back in January. 

The last match of the meet came down to Aaron against Buffalo graduate student Greg Hodulick. Aaron came out hot in the period to tie it up 3-3 going into the second. 

Aaron let an escape happen in the third, but in the final seconds, Aaron sparked and would go up 7-6 in the final seconds. Aaron outlasted Hodulick with a walk-off win to push the Huskies past the Bulls in the dual. Final score: 15-14 Huskies.


Late-season stretch going into the playoffs.

The Huskies are coming off two straight wins, one on the road and a big win in this year’s annual Beauty and the Beast dual. The win pushes the Huskies to a 7-4 overall record this season with two final duals left before the Mid-American Conference Championship. The Huskies will host Northwestern University next week at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 at Victor E. Court at the Convocation Center.