Wrestling finishes sixth in MAC Championships while qualifying two for NCAA


Wrestling finishes sixth in MAC Championships while qualifying two for NCAA

By Marcel Carrasco

NORFOLK, Viginia – The wrestling team placed sixth at the 2019 Mid-American Conference Wrestling Championships with a score of 98.0.

Two redshirt first-years, Brit Wilson and Bryce West, earned their spots in the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Tournament to extend NIU’s streak of sending a Huskie grappler to nationals to 48 consecutive years.

“There are some fantastic things to celebrate,” Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said. “Wilson in the MAC finals battling number two guy in the country bodes well for his NCAA championship production in two weeks, and West with a breakthrough performance avenging three losses to nationally ranked competitors to punch his ticket to NCAA.”

Related: Huskies sit in sixth place after day one of MAC Tournament

Wilson took home second place in the 174-weight class after falling to redshirt senior Daniel Lewis in the first place title bout. Nationally ranked Lewis from the University of Missouri defeated the Huskie in a 2-11 major decision.

In the 125-weight class, West took home the third-place finish after dominating redshirt senior Kyle Akins with a 22 second pin2, before a statement 4-2 decision victory over redshirt first-year Dack Punke to book his ticket to nationals.

Redshirt first-year Will Feldkamp and redshirt sophomore Max Ihry both placed fourth in the 184 and 197-weight classes respectively.

Feldkamp defeated junior Antonio Agee by injury default, but fell to senior Jordan Atienza 7-14. Ihry edged out senior Christian Dulaney 5-4 before falling just short against redshirt sophomore Wyatt Koelling 2-3.

“There were also some heartbreaking moments for guys,” Ludwig said. “That’s the brutal part of this sport. All in all my staff and I are proud of these men and the way they handled themselves.”

In his final MAC Championship performances, redshirt senior Alijah Jeffery placed fifth in the 133-weight class matching his performance from last year’s conference championships. Jeffery fell to redshirt sophomore Mario Guillen in heart-breaking sudden-death fashion. The loss set him up for an eventual 9-2 major decision win against sophomore Deven Perez.

Redshirt junior McCoy Kent went 1-1 on the day when he was pinned by redshirt sophomore Alec Hagan before winning the fifth-place bout, edging Tyshawn Williams 2-1.

Related: Get to know Elijah Jeffery

In the 285-weight class, redshirt junior Caleb Gossett placed sixth. The Huskie was defeated by redshirt senior Jake Gunning. Gossett turned his day around when he faced redshirt senior Zack Parker pinning him at 6:55 minutes. The Huskie placed fifth last year, and seventh in 2017.

Redshirt first-years Drew West and Mason Kauffman and redshirt sophomore Kenny Moore all took seventh-place. The Huskie trio all went winless in the first day of the championships but each were able to grab a victory on Saturday.

Drew need only 1:23 minutes to pin redshirt junior Lucas Bernal in the 141-weight class. Kauffman, battling at 157, recorded a 12-2 major decision victory over sophomore Richard Jackson and Moore had no trouble closing out redshirt first-year Brett Fedewa with a 16-1 technical fall in the 165-weight class.

The 2019 MAC Championships saw no Huskie grappler finishing in last place, joining three other schools with this such feat. This year’s score is a team best topping the 2017 record of 92.0, and the highest score under Ludwig.

The remaining qualifiers to the NCAA tournament will be announced Tuesday March 12 and seeding the following day. The national tournament is set to start 11 a.m. Thursday, March 21 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.