Wrestling looking to rebound from tough loss

By Steve Shonder

Wrestling will need to bounce back from a devastating loss to Missouri when it takes on Old Dominion at 6:30 p.m. at Norfolk, Va.

The Huskies (6-8, 1-4 MAC) will face MAC rivals Old Dominion (5-8, 1-2 MAC) in their first meet since 2010. The Old Dominion Monarchs are coming off their first MAC win of the season against Buffalo.

The Monarchs have had a tough schedule up to this point, having faced seven ranked opponents this season. They have two ranked wrestlers. No. 6 Chris Mecate (141) is 20-6 on the season. Mecate, along with No. 16 Alexander Richardson (149), make Old Dominion another formidable challenge for the Huskies.

In their last meet, NIU was shut out 31-0 by Missouri. Head coach Ryan Ludwig doesn’t expect that to happen again.

“I think we’ll bounce back well,” Ludwig said. “Like I said before, this team deals with adversity well. [There were] a lot of tight bouts that could have gone either way against Missouri; unfortunately, we ended up on the losing end of those. I think we’re going to rebound well and perform nicely down in Virginia.”

The Huskies will need good performances from junior Tyler Argue (141) and senior Rob Jillard (149), both of whom are slated to face the Monarchs’ ranked wrestlers. Jillard should be well prepared for his matchup. He wrestled No. 1 Drake Houdashelt last weekend and was only a few points short of pulling off the upset.

Ludwig isn’t worried about the Monarchs’ top wrestlers because he believes his team can hang with the best teams in the country.

“We’ve wrestled the best in the country week in, week out,” Ludwig said. “It’s another week, it’s another challenge. I think we match up well with them. I think a lot of our strengths match up well together, so I think the dual is going to be pretty interesting.

“There’s a lot of MAC ranking implications on the line and national qualifying spot implications on the line during this dual, so I think our guys are going to come to compete.”

Senior Nick Smith (133) and redshirt freshman Shaun’Qae McMurtry (165) both had strong performances against Missouri that Ludwig hopes they’ll carry into the meet with Old Dominion.

Jillard is confident about the Huskies’ chances on the road. It will also be a home meet of sorts for him, as his hometown is nearby. With his family in attendance, he said he’ll be motivated to show them what he can do.

“I think we’re going to bounce back hard and come out strong,” Jillard said. “We’re going to come out and take it to them.”