NIU Wrestling: Shawn Scott headed to NCAA National Championships

By Frank Gogola

Wrestling redshirt sophomore Shawn Scott is healthy and ready to go for his first appearance at the NCAA National Championships this weekend.

Scott will partake in the 197-pound weight class at the national tournament starting 11 a.m. today and running through Saturday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.

“You kind of live in the moment when you’re in a big tournament,” Scott said. “But, you treat it like any other tournament; you don’t get overwhelmed. If you get overwhelmed in big tournaments you’re not going to wrestle to your top ability; you’re going to be nervous and tense out there.”

Scott automatically qualified for the NCAA tournament by finishing fourth at the MAC Championships on March 7 and 8 in Columbia, Mo. He lost the final match of that tournament by injury default as he had a ruptured bursa sac — a fluid pocket — in his knee. He said the swelling and bruising in his knee are gone and he feels “very positive and confident going into this tournament.”

Scott (23-11) will face off against eighth-seeded Max Huntley (21-8), of the Michigan Wolverines, in the first round of the double-elimination tournament. Scott lost to Huntley, 7-4, when the two wrestlers met at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 2 in East Lansing, Mich.

Assistant coaches Dominick Moyer and John Helgerson have been mimicking Huntley’s wrestling style to give Scott the look and feel of what to expect.

“To prepare you just kind of mentally break down what you do best and try to go out there and perform at the top level you possibly can,” Scott said.

Regardless of what happens in the first round, Scott will go toe-to-toe later today with Cornell’s Jace Bennett (37-10), the ninth seed, or Northern Colorado’s Trent Noon (21-13). If Scott beats Huntley he’ll face the winner of Bennett-Noon. If he loses to Huntley he’ll take on the loser of Bennett-Noon in the wrestlebacks — the losers’ bracket.

Scott’s national tournament appearance pushes the streak of at least one NIU wrestler reaching the tournament to 44-straight years. Head coach Ryan Ludwig, who’s in his fourth season at NIU, said the first word that comes to mind to describe the atmosphere of the NCAA National Championships is “electrifying.”

“It’s the most exciting, electrifying wrestling atmosphere there is in our sport. Period. And that’s from top to bottom at all levels,” Ludwig said. “The crowd is extremely knowledgeable and energized. The level of wrestling is outstanding. Kids come to compete with the most energy they have all year. It’s just a great time. Everybody’s out there letting it fly.”