Wrestling kept busy over break


Wrestler Kevin Fanta grapples with an opponent during a match.

By Ed Rietveld

Winter break proved to be not much of a break for NIU’S wrestling team as the Huskies (7-4, 0-2MAC) opened up MAC play for the first time this season.

NIU lost its MAC opener against Kent St. (4-3, 1-0MAC), 29-9, on Dec. 18 in Ohio.

The Midlands Championship then started on Dec. 29. NIU finished 32nd on the first day and 35th on the second day.

Red shirt junior Kevin Fanta said there were a few reasons why the Huskies where able to come up with a 2-2 record.

“I think we just worked really hard over the whole break,” Fanta said. “We didn’t really get any breaks from working out and when we did get to go home, the coaches gave us a really good plan to keep working out.”

NIU rebounded with two dual meet wins in Edwardsville against Appalachian State (5-2), winning 26-12, and SIU Edwardsville (3-8), winning 31-13.

Over the weekend, NIU returned to DeKalb for its first home meet of 2013. The Huskies faced fellow MAC school University of Ohio (3-1, 2-1MAC). The Huskies fell to 0-2 in the MAC, losing to the Bobcats 31-13.

Fanta led off the dual with a 5-2 victory over Ohio’s Kagan Squire at 141 pounds.

The Huskies lost the next seven matches of the dual.

At 125 pounds, sophomore Derek Elmore won by forfeit and junior Nick Smith closed out the meet with a major decision over Ohio’s Garret Garness with a 9-1 victory.

Head coach Ryan Ludwig said his team has to start performing against Conference teams if it wants to have a good MAC season.

“I think we just have to approach those matches with a positive mindset, with a lot of confidence and a lot of swagger,” Ludwig said. “You know, self-belief is a huge deal. I think all of our guys are capable of having great performances. They just need to go out there and wrestle in their best positions for a full seven minutes.”

Ludwig feels his team will be challenged by the tough schedule they face heading into the second half of the season.

“I’d say [we have to] maintain an intensity and focus,” Ludwig said. “I’d say that our second half of the season, our schedule is extremely demanding. We wrestle several top nationally-ranked teams and it’s designed that way, not only for our team challenge but also for our individuals that are competing at the highest level and trying to get to the NCAA Tournament.”