MSU tourney on tap for Vatch’s wrestlers

By Paul Keller

The NIU wrestling team will face some stiff competition this weekend in the Michigan State Invitational.

Huskie coach Ed Vatch said his troops could cause some waves at the meet.

“I think we have the potential to win three or four weight classes,” he said.

Vatch said the Hosting Spartans are the team to beat this weekend.

“Michigan State is rated in the top 20 in the country this year,” he said. “They have a lot of great individuals including two kids at 118 and 177 pounds who are also ranked very high in the country.”

Notre Dame and Eastern Illinois also should be tough in the tournament, Vatch said.

“Notre Dame put an incredible amount of money in their wrestling program last year which opens their door to recruit coast to coast,” he said. “Last season they did not have many people on their squad that was from the Indiana area.”

EIU also could pose a threat to MSU because it returns most of its squad from last year.

“They signed a junior college champion this year,” Vatch said, “and since they did not lose many guys this year, they are going to be very tough this weekend.”

NIU sophomore Joe Madonia, 177 pounds, said he believes the Huskie matmen will surprise a lot of people.

“We are very hungry and we’ll turn a few heads Sunday,” he said.

Since this is Madonia’s second season wrestling, he said he feels more confident going into the season.

“I have more confidence this time around, and I’m going to concentrate on winning more,” he said. “Everyone is working so hard and it really drives you to work that much harder. I know that there is someone waiting to take my spot and it pushes me to work even harder.”

Freshman heavyweight Mark Kuehl has a different view of the tournament.

“This is my first year wrestling on the college level and I’m curious to see how the competition is,” he said. “Even though I do not have anyone to compare our team with as of yet, all I can say is our team is hard core. Everyone is so aggressive. We do have a young team, but these young guys have mature minds when it comes to dedication.”