Huskies fall to undefeated Missouri

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Marcel Carrasco

The wrestling team hit the mats for the first of two weekend Mid-American Conference duals Friday with a 40-6 loss against the No. 5 ranked University of Missouri.

 NIU earned just one win of the 10 matchups against a  Missouri Tigers team that has started the season undefeated, now at 14-0.

 “We just got to pick ourselves back up. Tomorrow is a new day, and we will focus on getting better tomorrow.” Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said. “We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves.”

 The Huskies are 1-3 in the MAC, sitting in sixth place with the Tigers leading the conference at 7-0. Ludwig said he was not impressed with his team’s performance against a tough Missouri team.

 “I thought Missouri came out and had a little more pluck to them,” Ludwig said. “They came out to set the tone in most cases.”

 Redshirt senior Alijah Jeffery put up the only win for the Huskies with a pin over redshirt first-year Cameron Valdiviez in the 133 weight-class. Jeffery has now won his last six matchups giving him his longest winning streak of the season.

 “It was awesome,” said Ludwig. “Ultimately he ended up putting a nasty half on that guy and sealing the deal.”

Related: Wrestling picks up first away wins of season

 Jeffery’s victory came early in the dual, to put NIU ahead 6-3. The Huskie said although he was happy he won, he was disappointed in the team loss.

 “Kind of good, kind of bad,” Jeffery said. “We struggled as a team and lacked a lot of energy.”

 The Missouri bout also saw  Ludwig experiment with rotations. Redshirt junior Caden McWhirter moved up to the 174 weight-class, redshirt first-year Brit Wilson moved up to the 184 weight-class, and redshirt first-year Will Feldkamp moved up to the 197 weight-class.

 “We thought that was in our best interest to try to close the gap in the score at that point,” Ludwig said.

Wilson faced redshirt senior No. 4 Daniel Lewis, but his efforts were not enough as he dropped a major decision loss 12-3. Lewis is a three-time All American who is now 18-1 this year. Although Wilson and Lewis both usually compete in the 174 weight-class, Friday’s matchup saw the grapplers compete in a heavier class.

 “We felt like it was important for [Wilson] to get his hands on Lewis,” Ludwig said. “We wanted to get our feel on him before heading into the postseason.”

 McWhirter made his second conference appearance, but fell to redshirt-junior Luke Fortuna in a 8-2 decision loss. Feldkamp was pinned by redshirt sophomore Wyatt Koelling with 1:33 on the clock.

 The Huskies return to action at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Convocation Center as they host the Ohio University Bobcats. The dual will be part of the “Beauty and the Beast” event shared with the NIU gymnastics team.