Wrestlers find tough going at nationals

By Jeff Kirik

Going into this weekend’s national wrestling tournament, NIU Coach Ed Vatch said his two wrestlers would have to catch fire in the early rounds, but instead they fizzled.

Tino Gonzalez and Nate Allison were both eliminated after two matches Thursday in the NCAA Championships at College Park, Md., but news of the losses was delayed when the NIU Sports Information Department did not hear from the coaches last night.

Normal procedure is for coaches to call after an event to give scores and quotes on the meet. The department eventually called a wire service for the results.

The assistant coach had called in the first-round scores earlier in the day, but did not give a phone number where he could be reached. Ken Prentice, travel coordinator for the athletic department, said the wrestling coaches made the travel arrangements by themselves and did not leave his office an itinerary.

Gonzalez drew Iowa State’s Bill Kelly in the 126-pound weight class. Kelly, seeded second in that division, pinned Gonzalez in 1:22 of the first period. Gonzalez then lost 17-5 to Mike Dallas of California State-Bakersfield in the losers’ bracket.

Allison faced first-seeded Pete Yozzo from Lehigh in his first-round 142-pound bout. Yozzo pulled out to an early lead and hung on for a 16-8 win. Allison ended his collegiate career with an 11-5 loss to Oregon State’s David Boyle.

Allison had to deal with more than his opponent in the two matches. In attempting a takedown against Yazzo, Allison was struck in the left eye by his foe’s knee.

The NIU senior, who finished the campaign with a 31-8-3 slate, was making his third straight appearance at nationals, his first by virtue of an independent berth. He took second at the NCAA’s West Regional.

Allison’s two previous visits came as rewards for his performances in the Mid-American Conference Championships, where he finished first as a 126-pound sophomore and third in the 134-pound class as a junior.

Gonzales finished his freshman season at 9-18-1, including a second-place finish in the West Regional.