NIU puts on a dominating display against the University of Arkansas–Little Rock at the Beauty and the Beast event


First-year Izzak Olejnik (top) attempts to pin his opponent Friday during NIU’s 38-4 win against the University of Arkansas–Little Rock at the Convocation Center. 

By James Krause

DeKALB —There was no caging “The Beast” for the University of Arkansas–Little Rock Trojans, as the NIU wrestling team won its dual 38-4 as part of Friday’s “Beauty and the Beast” event.

After a loss in the second contest of the meet, NIU rattled off eight straight wins, with five coming with bonus points. Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said the bonus points gives teams an edge in closer meets, something he wants the Huskies to do more in dual competitions.

“I liked our guys throughout the fights; they were scraping out there,” Ludwig said. “Every individual has his individual fight, but getting bonus points is like adding another guy to your team. Every time they can go out and get bonus points, that puts you in the driver’s seat to win the dual.”  

The Huskies started off with redshirt sophomore Bryce West scoring a narrow 13-10 victory over first-year Jayden Carson in a back-and-forth 125-pound battle. 

Entering the final period down 10-6, West picked up a takedown and near fall late to pick up the opening contest. 

“You have to manage [time and the score] really well,” West said. “Honestly it comes down to attacking, always trying to get points and giving it your best effort out there.”

The Trojans responded with what was ultimately their only victory of the event, a major decision win for junior Paul Bianchi over redshirt first-year Caleb Brooks at 133 pounds. NIU regained the lead with a decision win at 141 pounds by redshirt first-year Anthony Gibson.

Redshirt senior McCoy Kent went to overtime with first-year Tyler Brennan after Brennan picked up a takedown in the closing seconds. Kent avenged the takedown with one of his own for an 8-6 decision win at 149 pounds.

Redshirt senior Dylan Thurston picked up a decision win thanks to a pair of late takedowns against redshirt junior Jose Champagne at 157 pounds to round out the first half, giving NIU a 12-4 lead.

The Huskies picked up a total of nine bonus points in the next four bouts, starting with redshirt first-year Izzak Olejnik shutting out first-year Will Edgar in a 8-0 major decision at 165 pounds.

Redshirt senior Kenny Moore and redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson gave the Huskies a pair of second-round technical fall wins, finished off with a pinfall win in the first round for redshirt first-year Gage Braun  at 197 pounds. 

The Trojans ultimately decided to forfeit the 285 pound contest, giving redshirt junior Max Ihry a free victory and the Huskies a 38-4 final.

NIU improves to 8-3 in dual contests, matching its win total from last season with six duals left on the docket.

A long conference road trip starts 2 p.m. Jan. 25 against the University of Missouri Tigers, who are currently undefeated in four Mid-American Conference duals this season.