Wrestling splits meets in Michigan

By Marcel Carrasco

DeKALB — The wrestling team split two duals Saturday on its trip to East Lansing with a 33-6 victory over the Bloomsburg University Huskies before falling to the Michigan State University Spartans 9-27.

NIU won its sixth meet of the season, beating Bloomsburg, who holds a 2-8 record, and dropping a hard battle against 7-6 Michigan State, leaving NIU with a 6-9 record.

The Bloomsburg meet saw NIU take 8-10 matchups, while taking only 3-10 against the Spartans.

Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said he was happy with his team’s performance as Huskie grapplers redshirt first-year Brit Wilson, redshirt sophomore Kenny Moore and redshirt junior McCoy Kent all went undefeated on the day.

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“Kent was executing his offense well and stayed on his attacks,” Ludwig said. “[Moore] displayed a lot of heart, and [Wilson] turned in a major decision and a dominating victory over another top-20 opponent.”

v. Bloomsburg

The Bloomsburg matchup was the first for the Huskies since dropping a hard-fought home loss against the Ohio University Bobcats last weekend. All signs pointed to a good performance for NIU, as the Huskies have had success in their previous same-day duals, going 3-1.

Redshirt first-year Bryce West led the pack against Bloomsburg. West trailed 5-3 heading into the third period but managed to make the comeback, taking the decision 6-5 victory over junior Willy Girard in the 125 bout.

The Huskies then jumped to an 11-0 lead after redshirt senior Alijah Jeffery muscled his way to a 15-0 technical fall victory in the first period against sophomore Shawn Orem, and redshirt first-year Drew West got the victory 2:35 pin over first-year Aaron Coleman.

Kent earned his first win. He went up against redshirt junior Grant Bond in the 149 weight class. Kent jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back, finishing with a 6-1 decision victory.

Moore followed with a clinical performance, beating first-year Alex Carida in the 165 weight class. The Huskie led throughout the matchup and finished with a 5-1 decision victory. Wilson mimicked Moore’s hustle and had a performance with a major decision 11-0 victory against redshirt sophomore Anthony Veterano.

Redshirt senior Andrew Scott earned the final victory for the Huskies in the Bloomsburg dual after redshirt first-year Will Feldkamp’s win in a forfeit.

Scott faced junior Kyle Murphy in the 197 bout. Murphy led through two periods, but Scott was able make a comeback and walk away with a decision 6-2 victory.

v. Michigan State

The Michigan State dual proved a challenge for the Huskies. MSU jumped out to an early 10-0 lead with losses from Bryce, Drewt and an overtime loss from Jeffery.

 Kent was able to get the Huskies in the win column with a decision 5-3 victory over redshirt first-year Jadon Enrique. A Kauffman loss to MSU redshirt sophomore Jake Tucker in the 157 weight class kept the Spartans ahead by 10.

 Moore and Wilson came up big for the Huskies, as both grapplers closed out their undefeated duals record with two victories to close the gap, 9-14.

Moore faced redshirt junior Logan Ritchie in a double overtime win for the Huskies. Wilson then added to the scoreboard after taking down redshirt sophomore Drew Hughes in a decision 8-3 victory.

 Wilson’s victory would be the last for NIU, as the Spartans went on to win the closing three matchups to hand the Huskies a tough loss. Feldkamp fell 7-4 against redshirt first-year Cameron Caffery in a bout in which the Huskie trailed by two going into the third period.

NIU’s Scott carried an early 2-0 lead against redshirt first-year Brad Wilton before Wilton pinned Scott with 1:41 on the clock.

 Redshirt junior Caleb Gossett was last up for the Huskies, but his efforts were not enough in a major decision 15-7 loss to redshirt first-year Chase Beard.

 The Huskies close out their regular season campaign with three away matches in February, including two Mid-American Conference duals. The three-match stretch will follow a 12-day rest for NIU, but Ludwig said his team will keep its eyes on the prize.

 “My staff and I want to see everyone compete with 100 percent focus from the first whistle through the entire match,” Ludwig said. “We need to continue to wrestle in all situations and not let a second go by without improving our position.”

 The Huskies will be back on the mats 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at Kent State University and 1 p.m. Feb. 16 at Cleveland State University.

NIU has split the previous two bouts against both Kent State and Cleveland State. The Huskies took two wins in the 2016-17 season, while losing both in the 2017-18 season.