Regional warmup turns into rout

By Jeff Kirik

If the NIU wrestlers were using last night’s dual meet to gain momentum for regionals, they now can consider themselves a runaway train.

The 4-9 Huskies dominated the middle matches of the meet, including five straight wins, on their way to a 27-15 win over Eastern Illinois. NIU coach Ed Vatch said the meet was good preparation for the upcoming West Regional Championships.

“Overall we looked good,” he said. “We dominated in takedowns again. It’s pretty obvious that we’re in a lot better shape than we were at the beginning of the season.”

The Huskies had to forfeit the 118-pound match because of an injury to Tony Calderone. Tino Gonzalez started the NIU barrage in the 126-pound match by claiming a 6-4 comeback win over the Panther’s Pat Flynn.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him (Gonzalez) look this year. I bet that’s the best kid he’s beat in his life,” Vatch said.

After NIU’s 134-pounder Mike Gonio dropped a 12-10 decision, it was Nate Allison’s turn in the spotlight. The 142-pound senior, wrestling in his last dual meet as a Huskie, put together an artful performance in gaining a 25-10 technical fall over Terry Boes. Allison, who was honored before the meet, said he was looking to go out in style.

“I think this is the most I’ve ever been fired up for a match,” he said. “The big crowd helped. It felt great (the win), but my goal is a national championship and I’m sure that would feel a lot better.”

Allison used a variety of moves in his match, including a flashy one which Vatch called a patented “Nate Allison 360-spin, double-leg takedown.”

“What can you say, he looked great tonight,” said Vatch of his lone senior. “He wanted the flare. He wanted to go out in a blaze of glory.”

The Huskies were not finished after Allison’s win. NIU took the next four matches to move out to a 27-9 lead. Tim Cocco followed Allison’s lead with a 14-2 victory in his 150-pound match. NIU 158-pounder Joe Madonia kept things rolling with a devastating headlock which he used to pin Chris Bonds with 1:38 gone in the match.

“That guy (Bonds) was big and he was just trying to outmuscle Joe. I knew Joe was going to put the headlock on him,” Vatch said.

Madonia described his pin, saying: “It’s something totally high-schoolish. It’s so tough to pin a guy in college wrestling. I was a little surprised. He came in with his hands up two times and the second time I was looking for it.”

Ted Anderson took the 167-pound match by an 11-0 score even though, according to Vatch, he wrestled conservatively because of a bad neck.

Tom Hoy closed out the NIU scoring with an 8-5 win over Panther 177-pounder Marty Molina. Hoy, Anderson and Madonia all dropped a weight class for the meet to prepare for the regionals.

The next match could have been considered a pseudo-190-pound bout. EIU’s Henry Teverbaugh, normally a 167-pounder, won 5-4 over NIU’s Jon Popp, who usually wrestles at 158 pounds. The meet ended with Panther heavyweight Demetrius Harper claiming a 13-7 decision over Eric Wenckowski.