Wrestling heads to Michigan State Open

By Mike Romor

The new season continues for wrestling 8 a.m. Saturday when it travels to East Lansing for the Michigan State Open.

Wrestling had mixed results in its first open of the season. After sending 22 wrestlers to the mats in last weekend’s Warren Williamson/Daktronics Open, nine Huskie grapplers ended with a trip to the podium.

Redshirt freshman Shawn Scott, 197, and freshman Jordan Northrup, 133, led all Huskies with second-place finishes. Seniors Kevin Fanta, 141, finished fourth, while senior Jared Torrence, 285, and sophomore Andrew Morse, 157, ended a solid day’s work in fifth. Last year’s NCAA qualifier, Matt Mougin, took sixth place at 174. Three other Huskies reached the podium, in the open, as well.

Despite the rather successful weekend from some of NIU’s expected starters, head coach Ryan Ludwig and his wrestlers expect to see better performances moving forward.

“No one’s satisfied with their performance out there,” Ludwig said. “Every guy on our team is looking to make more of an impression and do better. It’s early in the season; we’ve got some kinks and everybody’s working those out right now.

“While some guys wrestled well, I don’t think anybody left that tournament feeling completely satisfied, and that’s where our heads should be at right now.”

NIU will have its hands full this weekend with plenty of Big Ten schools participating in the open, including top 25 programs. Illinois is the highest ranked team entering the open at seventh in the country.

Other top 25 schools participating in the open are Edinboro (9), Michigan (19), Northwestern (21), Ohio State (10), Pittsburgh (15), Purdue (23) and Central Michigan (24).

Other than NIU and Central Michigan, the MAC participants include Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Ohio.

With some of the top competition in the country pooled into strong brackets, NIU grapplers will gain valuable experience moving forward.

“We’re focusing on wrestling hard and scoring points,” Ludwig said. “Right now in practice we’re working on the details, and when we get those shored up those will lead to results and tangible moves for us.”

The open is the last of the season for NIU, as it preludes the EMU duals, in which the Huskies will be challenged by more of the country’s top performers, including No. 11 Oregon State and No. 19 Michigan.