Freshmen make name for themselves on wrestling mats

By Mike Romor

Freshmen are not known to have immediate success at the college level.

For NIU wrestling, however, freshmen have been making names for themselves early on this season.

After five true freshmen won matches at the opening wrestle-offs, coach Ryan Ludwig was excited to see his recruits come in and execute.

After four freshmen placed in the freshman/sophomore division of the Eastern Michigan Open, including a first-place finish from Shawn Scott at 197, Ludwig continued his praise.

“We knew what they were capable of coming in,” Ludwig said. “You never know until they get to campus, quite what they’re going to bring to the table in terms of work ethic, but we heard nothing but great reports. We’re excited about their potential and as far as potential goes, we’ve definitely got some of the right guys here.”

Scott came to NIU knowing he had a chance to replace former Huskie Mike Lukowski. Entering the season, he had a pretty basic mindset.

“My goal was, really, to win my first college match,” Scott said. “It’s been my goal ever since high school to always win the first match to start off a season. Fortunately, I kept winning and took first and that was another goal I had.”

Now that Scott has done that, he might get the nod over senior Arber Bebo come time for this weekend’s Huskie Duals.

Other than Scott, there are multiple freshmen that have a chance to start this weekend for the Huskies.

The Morse brothers, Andrew and Gabe, have come in and performed well in their short time with the program.

The duo has an older brother, Jackson, who wrestles for the University of Illinois and finished seventh at last year’s NCAA Championships at 157.

The twins caught Ludwig’s eye in Michigan a couple years ago, where Ludwig said he has a lot of ties for recruiting.

While Gabe did not participate in the wrestle-offs, Andrew won convincingly at 157, putting his name into strong consideration at the weight class the Huskies struggled to find consistency in last season.

At 184, which Brad Dieckhaus dominated during his NIU career, freshman Bryan Loughlin has already clinched the starting spot.

Braun Marquez has also made a splash for NIU.

The Texas native won the wrestle-off at 125 over solid redshirt freshman Nick Harrison and placed fifth at the EMU Open. With Nick Smith moving up from 125 to 133, the position could be taken by yet another promising Huskie freshman.

While this season has hardly begun, NIU looks poised to improve on its 8-9 record from last year.