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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

West makes earl departure from Nationals

Tim Dodge
NIU redshirt sophomore Blake West grapples on the back of Lock Haven freshman Logan Sallot on Feb. 9. West was eliminated in the first round at the 2024 NCAA Championships. (Northern Star File Photo)

After falling short of an at-large bid into the 2023 NCAA Championships, redshirt sophomore Blake West made his Nationals debut in Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday. West was eliminated from the tournament after losing both matches in the opening round.

West was bested in a 10-7 decision during Session 1 of the opening round against North Carolina State University redshirt junior and No. 13 seed Jakob Camacho.

Camacho manufactured an early lead with a pair of takedowns in the opening frame. Despite getting on the board in the second period, Camacho held off West en route to a 10-7 decision to advance in the tournament.

Later that evening, West surrendered 16 points in a major decision defeat against South Dakota State University senior and No. 23 seed Tanner Jordan in Round 1 of the Consolation Bracket. West drew first blood with an early escape but a 16-1 onslaught would bury West’s All-American hopes. 

“We thought West wrestled really well and competed hard,” said NIU wrestling head coach Ryan Ludwig. “He was in on two match-changing sequences that unfortunately just did not swing his way. There’s a razor-thin margin of victory out here. He’s figured a lot of things out this year.”

The Shakopee, Minnesota, native finished 27-8 overall in his third season with the red-and-black and ranked No. 40 in WrestleStat’s 125-pound rankings. 

“He’s figured a lot of things out this year,” Ludwig said. “Finding his offense earlier and more often. That’s key to his progress. He will be back at NCAAs and make a splash.” 

Redshirt freshman Jacob Brya was one of 47 wrestlers to earn an at-large selection into the National Championships. Brya received notice less than 24 hours before the tournament got underway.

Before Brya could join West on the national stage, he was forced to withdraw due to unspecified medical reasons. 

“We were fired up to see Jacob get into the tournament,” Ludwig said. “Later that evening we ran into some medical issues resulting in his withdrawal from the event. It was an emotional roller coaster no doubt.”


West’s early departure from Nationals wrapped up the NIU wrestling season. 

Ludwig sketched out the offseason itinerary, which begins with Olympic freestyle in late Spring and ends with the World Team Trials ahead of June.

“We will get back to work this spring with freestyle wrestling,” Ludwig said. “That’s the international style of the sport. We will also get back in the weightroom room at an increased volume to gain functional strength to aid in our ultimate development. That training phase will go through late May when we will compete in the U23 World Team Trials.”

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