Wildcats dominate Huskies on the road


Mingda Wu

An NIU wrestler is taken down by a Northwestern wrestler in Friday’s meet at the Convocation Center. (Mingda Wu)

By Adrien De La Peña, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – An electric home dual environment wasn’t enough to push the NIU Huskies past the No.13 Northwestern University Wildcats. 

NIU redshirt freshman Blake West got fans fired up at the Convocation Center after defeating Northwestern redshirt senior Michael DeAugustino. DeAugustino is ranked No. 8 in the country at 125. 

“Being in the Convo (Convocation Center) is always special, you know. It really makes it more like a primetime event,” West said. “Setting the tone early is always something I like to do for the team.”

West took DeAugustino into overtime, logging six points in the final period to secure the win.

“I could feel him starting to fade a little bit. I know, he cuts weight a lot,” West said. “Late in the overtime rounds, he kind of started to get tired and that’s when I started to push my pace.”

Northwestern came into the dual with nine out of their 10 wrestlers being nationally ranked. After the first match, Northwestern would go on to win in two four-match stretches and defeat the Huskies with a 30-6 dual win.

“I’m proud of our effort, despite the team score obviously we want to win the dual outright, but kudos to Northwestern,” NIU wrestling head coach Ryan Ludwig said. “They wrestled a heck of a dual meet and they won some of those tight battles.”

The Wildcats are rolling

The Wildcats won four straight matches including one major decision by Northwestern graduate student Yahya Thomas. The Wildcats started their wins at 133 with redshirt junior Chris Cannon defeating NIU graduate student Bryce West. The match score was 10-3. 

At 141, NIU redshirt junior Jaivon Jones took the mat with Northwestern redshirt sophomore Frankie Tal-Shahar. The match was a battle for the first three rounds, but Shahar was able to secure a takedown in overtime to outlast Jones in a 3-1 match win for the Wildcats. The Wildcats would go up 6-3 on the Huskies in the dual and continue their dominance. 

Thomas at 149 defeated NIU graduate student Anthony Cheloni by logging seven points in the third period to secure a Wildcats major decision. NIU redshirt senior Anthony Gibson then dropped his match to Northwestern redshirt junior Trevor Chumbley in an 8-2 match score. This four-match stretch for the Wildcats would push them past the Huskies in a 13-3 dual score after five matches.

Olejnik pauses Wildcat momentum

NIU redshirt senior Izzak Olejnik thrived in a match win over Northwestern redshirt sophomore Maxx Mayfield, despite the dual loss. Wrestling at 165, Olejnik went into the third period with a 2-2 match score against Mayfield. In the third period, Olejnik showed why he is the No. 14 ranked wrestler at 165, taking on his opponent, No. 18 ranked Mayfield, going into the match. Olejnik would outlast Mayfield in the third and bring home the match win for the Huskies. The dual score was 13-6 after Olejnik and Mayfield’s match.

“Izzak Olejnik in a battle, we knew it was going to be a battle because the kid (Mayfield) is tough,” Ludwig said. “Izzak was showing maturity, showing composure, and winning that tight battle helped him grab another nationally ranked win to help with MAC seeding and national seeding.”

Wildcats outlast Huskies with another four-match stretch

The Wildcats went on another four match stretch to defeat the Huskies with a major decision by Northwestern redshirt freshman Evan Bates and redshirt senior Lucas Davison. Bates scored six points in the third period to defeat NIU junior Matthew Zuber at 184.  Davison defeated NIU redshirt senior Terrese Aaron in a 12-1 major decision match win for the Wildcats. 

NIU wrestling would lose the dual 30-6, dropping to an overall 7-5 record. The Huskies sit at the top of the Mid-American Conference tied with Central Michigan University, who stunned the Huskies with a comeback win back in January. 

The Huskies travel next week to Edwardsville to take on the Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Cougars in the last dual of the season at 1 p.m. on Feb. 19 at the First Community Arena. The Huskies look to close out the season with a MAC win to put themselves in the No. 1 spot. 

“We have to keep getting better like we have been every week, we have to keep gaining steam and understand that every position we put ourselves in and every chance we give ourselves to get our hand raised helps us ultimately at the MAC championship,” Ludwig said. “And then furthermore to get to the NCAA, which is our ultimate goal.”