Olejnik nabs All-American honors at NCAA championships


Courtesy Kent State Athletics

NIU redshirt senior Izzak Olejnik grapples with Kent State University sophomore Enrique Munguia during Sunday’s dual meet. The 165-pound wrestlers clashed in a battle of nationally-ranked opponents. Olejnik and Munguia were ranked No. 10 and No. 25 respectively in the Dec. 13 InterMat rankings for their weight class. (David Dermer)

By Adrien De La Peña, Sports Reporter

DeKALB– NIU redshirt senior Izzak Olejnik took down No. 10 Ohio State University redshirt junior Carson Kharchla in the 2023 NCAA Wrestling Championships en route to being named an All-American.

Olejnik’s status as All-American ranks him as the eighth best wrestler in the country for the 165-pound weight class.

Olejnik started his All-American deciding match with an escape late in the second period to take a 1-0 lead. To start the third period, Kharchla chose the bottom position, where Olejnik would not let him escape and secure a riding time point. Olejnik flourished with a 2-1 victory over Kharchla. 


Olejnik began the tournament by taking on The University of Oklahoma sophomore Gerrit Nijenhuis. Olejnik started the match with an offensive bout by securing a takedown to take an early 2-0 lead with a minute left in the first period. Nijenhuis logged a reversal to tie the score at 2-2, but Olejnik escaped to finish off the first period with a 3-2 lead.

Nijenhuis took over the second period by tying the score at 3-3 and not allowing Olejnik to log a single point. The final period of the match started with Olejnik deciding to take the bottom position. Olejnik logged an escape late in the third to take the lead 4-3 and come out with a win in the first match in the National Championship.

Olejnik took the mat for the second time of the day against No. 5 Princeton University senior Quincy Monday. Olejnik’s efforts were not enough for Monday’s dominance as he came out with the 4-1 victory. Olejnik’s chance at a national title slipped away, but there was still a chance at an All-American status in the consolation bracket. Olejnik took the mat on Day two against No. 22 South Dakota State University junior Tanner Cook.


Olejnik defeated all three of his opponents on the second day (Friday) of the consolation bracket. Olejnik’s first opponent Cook was a familiar face as the two of them faced off in the Cal Baptist double dual meet. Olejnik came out on top with a 3-1 victory in that meet.

Olejnik dominated on the big stage by logging five points in the first two periods while only letting up one point. Olejnik also gained three points of riding time towards the end of the match giving himself an 8-1 victory over Cook.

Olejnik’s next match was against University of Pittsburgh redshirt senior Holden Heller. The first two periods were stagnant with only one point logged by Olejnik with an escape. Olejnik then logged four near-fall points and a reversal. Shortly after, Heller called the match due to injury. Olejnik wrestled one more match on the day that gave him third place on the podium but dropped his match against University of Wisconsin-Madison sophomore Dean Hamiti.


Olejnik faced North Dakota State University redshirt freshman Michael Caliendo on the third day for seventh place, but lost 6-2 and took home eighth. Despite the loss, Olejnik was named an All-American, the ninth wrestler in NIU history to ever do it. The last Huskie to gain  All-American status was Brit Wilson in 2021 who was also coached by head coach Ryan Ludwig.

Olejnik finished the year with All-American status, a Mid-American Conference (MAC) title, and MAC Championship Most Valuable Wrestler title. Olejnik’s 2023 campaign ends with a 31-5 overall and 6-0 in the MAC.