Fanta, Argue battling for wrestling spot


Wrestler Kevin Fanta grapples with an opponent during a match.

By Mike Romor

For wrestling’s Kevin Fanta and Tyler Argue, practice means more than it ever has before.

Redshirt senior Fanta has had his fair share of success during his five years on the NIU mats. The 141-pounder has made it to the NCAA Championships and has finished second in the MAC each of the past two seasons.

No matter how successful he might have been, a knee injury last season allowed then-sophomore Argue time on the mat in place of Fanta, making things complicated in the process.

Argue ended last season with a 17-9 record, while Fanta finished 10-5. Argue started the season strong in Fanta’s absence, going 4-1 in duals. His success early last season came in the wake of dropping down to 141 from the 149 class.

“Everybody’s first year is a bit of a learning experience, just coming in and understanding the physicality of college wrestling,” said head coach Ryan Ludwig. “For Tyler, he came in his first year at 149, and he definitely has found a home at 141…. It’s pure hard work and determination; that’s what wins at this level. Tyler comes in and that’s the first thing he thinks about, so he’s making great strides.”

Despite holding his own and having a knack for beating his toughest scheduled opponents, Fanta now finds himself in a daily battle with Argue for a spot in upcoming duals. It is not a jab at Fanta, but mainly a testament to the improvement Argue has made since his arrival at NIU.

“Entering this year I’d have to say that my mindset changed,” Argue said. “I reevaluated how I want to leave my mark at NIU. I don’t want to be an ‘Average Joe’ here; I want to be the baddest person who ever wrestled here.”

Fanta still holds the edge over Argue because of his extra experience on the mat, but the gap between the two has narrowed to the point where it’s just a slight edge.

In the Huskies’ season-opening wrestle-offs, Argue escaped with a thrilling 6-4 victory over Fanta, only confirming there would be a legitimate battle between the two through the rest of the year.

So far this season, Fanta and his experience have been called upon for four of the six competitive duals. He has gone 3-1 with a pin in those matches.

Argue is 1-1 in his two decisions at 141, with a lopsided technical fall victory, 17-1, over North Dakota State freshman Devin Wolf.

He also went out at 149 against Findlay, pinning his opponent in the first round.

While he respects his teammate’s improvement on the mat, Fanta never wants to lose his position in the lineup, much less in his final season.

“Every time we wrestle in the room, it’s a fight,” Fanta said. “It’s definitely different than wrestling anyone else. We know [Ludwig] is watching and he’s looking in practice to see who he wants to start. So every time we wrestle, we’re punching each other and it gets intense.”