Wrestling begins road trip with a convincing win over Cleveland State


Redshirt first-year Caleb Brooks tangles with a Central Michigan University Chippewa on Jan. 5 at Victor E. Court.

By James Krause

DeKALB — The wrestling team started its weekend road trip to Ohio with a 24-6 decision win over the Cleveland State University Vikings on Friday night in Cleveland.

Head coach Ryan Ludwig said he appreciated his team’s spirit in the victory that saw all decision results, two requiring overtime.

“The guys wrestled tough,” Ludwig said in an NIU Athletics news release. “It was a great team win. I liked the grit out of our guys tonight.”

Redshirt sophomore Bryce West got the Huskies off to a good start with a 10-6 decision win over first-year Logan Heil at 125 pounds.

The Vikings picked up their only two wins of the meet after that contest, both by slim margins. Redshirt senior Justin Patrick defeated redshirt first-year Caleb Brooks 4-3 at 133 pounds, while top-ranked 141-pound redshirt senior Evan Cheek handed redshirt first-year Anthony Gibson his first dual loss of the season.

The Huskies rebounded with a win by redshirt senior McCoy Kent beating first-year Gus Sutton at 149 pounds to tie the dual back at 6-6.

Redshirt sophomores Mason Kauffman and Brady Barnett were tied at 1-1 after regulation at 157 pounds. Kauffmann would secure a takedown in overtime for the decision win, putting NIU back in the lead for good.

Redshirt first-year Izzak Olejnik and redshirt senior Kenny Moore each picked up decision wins at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively.

Redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson came the closest out of any NIU wrestler to picking up bonus points for the dual, beating first-year DeAndre Nassar 10-4 at 184 pounds and coming short of a major.

At 197 pounds, redshirt first-year Gage Braun beat sophomore Ben Smith by decision. Redshirt junior Max Ihry won a double overtime contest at 285 pounds against redshirt sophomore John Kelbly to finish a 24-6 win for NIU.

With the win, NIU joins Rider University and the University of Missouri as the only teams in the Mid-American Conference with 10 overall dual wins. The Huskies’ conference record moves to 5-2 while the Vikings fall to 4-5.

NIU will look to take hold of second place in the MAC West Sunday when it meets Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. The first match is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. with the dual broadcasted on ESPN+.