Wrestling falls to Illini

By Marcel Carrasco

DeKALB — The wrestling team dropped its second home loss of the season Friday against the University of Illinois 24-9.

“The guys competed hard,” Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said. “They have a good mindset, and we are always looking for more.”

NIU won three of 10 matches, losing six by one or two points. Sophomore Anthony Cheloni, redshirt junior McCoy Kent and redshirt junior Caleb Gossett nabbed three wins for the Huskies.

After falling to an early 0-9 deficit, NIU put two consecutive victories together to get back on track 6-9.

The Illini were quick to regain the lead and never looked back. Five consecutive NIU defeats followed, including losses from redshirt first-year Mason Kauffman, redshirt sophomore Kenny Moore and redshirt first-year Britt Wilson.

Related: Wrestling Drops Meet to Hoosiers

“We need to have undeniable execution on attacks, escapes and mat returns,” Ludwig said. “Then elite level matches go our way.”

Redshirt first-year Bryce West dropped the first matchup of the night to No. 13 junior Travis Piotrowkski. Huskie redshirt senior Alijah Jeffery followed the loss, but he was also defeated in a 2:07 pin against No. 17 redshirt sophomore Dylan Duncan.

The Huskies responded with back-to-back wins from Cheloni and Kent to give NIU some life. Cheloni took care of redshirt sophomore Mike Carr with a decision 5-3 victory to open up the scoring for the Huskies. Kent’s nail-biting win over junior Christian Kanzler came in a triple overtime performance, which finished in a Huskie decision 4-3 victory.

Kaufmann met No. 14 redshirt junior Eric Barone in the 157-weight class, losing in a decision 8-4. Moore faced No. 14 redshirt junior Joseph Gunther in a decision 4-2 loss at the 165-weight class.

Redshirt first-year Will Feldkamp made his second appearance at the 184-weight class facing No. 2 redshirt senior Emory Parker. Feldkamp fought hard, but a third period comeback attempt was not enough as the Huskie lost in a decision 8-4.

Gossett closed for the Huskies and gave the team a reason to keep chins up after taking out redshirt senior Deuce Rachal in a decision 2-0 victory to close out the U of I matchup.

The Huskies return to the mats 6 p.m. Friday when they visit Central Michigan University to open up MAC play.