No. 4 Story of the year: NIU wrestler Brad Dieckhaus’ undefeated season

No. 4 Story of the year: NIU wrestler Brad Dieckhaus undefeated season

By Mike Romor

NIU wrestler Brad Dieckhaus entered his final season with one goal in sight: winning the NCAA Championships to become the national champion at the 184-lb weight class.

A wide range of injuries hampered Dieckhaus from before the season even started through the very end. A knee surgery prior to the season, an ankle with ligament damage during the season, and a torn ACL in the MAC Championships stopped him of accomplishing his goal, but it did not stop him from entering the NIU record book. Dieckhaus finished the regular season a perfect 11-0, which helped him land the No. 4 spot on the Northern Star’s top 10 11’-12’ NIU athletes.

Dieckhaus became the tenth wrester in school history to go undefeated in the regular season. The feat was last accomplished by Neal McDonald in 1965.

“It’s not that big of a deal to me. I rather would have gone undefeated at the National Tournament,” Dieckhaus said. “It was exciting because I don’t think anyone else has done that since 1965, but I would’ve rather wrestled more matches and gone undefeated at Nationals. It was a good thing to accomplish, though.”

Dieckhaus entered this season coming off a trying junior season in which mentor, close friend and former NIU wrestler Will McDermott passed away just days before the MAC Championships. Dieckhaus won the title at 184 while proving heart and determination could propel him to success.

A true testament to Dieckhaus’ commitment to the program and his sheer will to end his career on top was exhibited throughout his senior campaign.

He came back from his preseason knee injury practically the second trainers allowed him to step on the mats. He received injections for his ligament-torn ankle the night before the MAC Championships in order to make it through the day. Not even a torn ACL immediately after that stopped him from giving it a try at Nationals.

It is unfathomable that, in a sport centered on being in prime physical condition, Dieckhaus accomplished what he did with a body that hardly stayed in one piece.

Dieckhaus said this season was, if anything, fueled by his heart. With a body that could not handle his exhausting training, he had to rely more on will power than he had to on his physical health.

He does not regret grappling through various injuries, but his undefeated season came at a price. Now on crutches after reconstructive knee surgery, Dieckhaus will not be fully recovered for four to six months, at which point he will have ankle surgery. After that, he may need a third surgery on his right knee because of cartilage damage in the meniscus.

Staying true to his form, not even the physical repercussions make Dieckhaus rethink his final go-around as a Huskie wrestler.

“It was an emotional roller coaster to end my career with a torn ACL,” Dieckhaus said. “It’s a tough way to end a career, but you have to play the cards you’re dealt and push through the pain. I wasn’t going to stop competing, not in my last year.”