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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Beauty and the Beast: Wrestling vanquishes defending champs

Totus Tuus Keely
Freshman Sean Carroll (right) locks together with Lock Haven sophomore Cael Black. Carroll kept up with Black into overtime to win the match. (Totus Tuus Keely | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Concluding decisively with three consecutive wins, NIU wrestling (12-2, 6-1 MAC) conquered two-time reigning MAC champion Lock Haven University (6-10, 3-3 MAC) 22-15 in the annual “Beauty and the Beast dual on Friday. 

Battling both Lock Haven and adversity all night long, NIU wrestling head coach Ryan Ludwig voiced his admiration for the team’s hard-fought finish.

“That’s what we preach on every day,” Ludwig said. “Especially when you’re tired, you’re hurt and finding a way to dig deep and find that score. So I was proud of the efforts on that. But we have a long way to go to improve to complete our goals in the postseason.”


After redshirt sophomore Blake West escaped freshman Logan Sallot in a 9-5 triumph, NIU experienced setbacks in the subsequent two matches resulting in an 8-3 Lock Haven advantage. 

In search of a momentum shift, redshirt senior Jaivon Jones responded by securing a fall in 2:22 over junior Nick Stonecheck, who was ranked No. 23 in WrestleStat’s 149-pound category. Jones’ dominant performance propelled NIU to its second lead change, pushing the Huskies ahead 9-8.

“Work hard in all positions and are trying to get better,” Jones said of his performance. “I was able to get him into a front-head (lock) and get into a cradle.” 


Despite dropping two of its next three bouts following Jones’ victory, NIU engineered a three-match win streak to arrive at the final outcome. 

Junior Jacob Christensen clinched the dual for the Huskies with a contested 4-1 decision over sophomore Ethan Miller. This marks the second meet in a row where the final match decided the winner.  

Christensen attributes his success to an unconventional mental tactic.

“I wrestle a lot better when I don’t care,” Christensen said. “So if I start caring a lot, and I think too much, I get into my own head. I knew the team score; I knew I needed to wrestle how I wrestle.” 

Instead of relying on ranked heavyweight redshirt sophomore Jacobi Jackson, Ludwig turned to Christensen to finish the dual. Christensen was honored and humbled to receive his big break. 

“Me and Jacobi (Jackson) we’ve had close matches all year,” Christensen said. “He’s a great wrestler – we’re the room making each other better every day. So just being able to get my opportunity to come out here and show what I can do – it’s really nice.”


NIU will play host in the regular season finale at 7 p.m. on Feb. 23 against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Live stats will be available via Track Wrestling

“It’s another building step, we got to keep working,” Jones said. “We got off next week. We got off but we got to work and hone in on conditions and get better. Then we got one more match and then we got the MAC (Championships) after that. Gotta keep doing the right things.”

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