Wrestlers rebound after crushing loss

By Gregory Janicki

The NIU wrestling squad gave head coach Ed Vatch reason to smile by earning a split in its two weekend meets.

After a disappointing 47-2 loss to Northern Iowa Friday, the Huskies displayed a turnaround by defeating Southern Illinois University/Edwardsville 24-23. The split brings NIU’s season record to 6-8.

Vatch expected Friday’s opponent to be a huge obstacle, but he did not expect such a one-sided result.

“It was a case where we gave them too much respect,” Vatch explained. “I knew we wrestled hard, but we just got beat.”

The 8th-ranked Panthers overpowered the Huskies and only Mark Kuehl’s tie at 190 helped them avoid a complete shutout.

NIU’s T.C. Dantzler lost by injury default in the 158-pound match. The back injury he suffered forced him to forfeit his match Saturday night.

Vatch plans to have Dantzler back for next week’s competition.

“After the (Friday) match, the guys didn’t know what to say to each other. They needed to get back on the right track before (Saturday’s) meet,” Vatch said.

The Huskies found the right track when they came back from an 11-0 deficit to win the next three matches and take an 18-11 lead.

The Huskies won the 134-pound and 142-pound matches by forfeit, but it was Jim Gussman’s pin in the 150-pound match that turned the meet around for good.