NIU wrestling falls to Northwestern Friday


Northern Star File Photo – Redshirt sophomore Matt Mougin tries to escape from the grasp of Stanford’s Garrett Schaner in the 165-pound match earlier this season.

By Mike Romor

After getting an 11 day break, NIU wrestling could not contain No. 19 Northwestern in Evansville Friday.

After last year’s 38-0 drubbing, NIU (6-8, 0-4 MAC) put up a close fight against one of the nation’s top lineups, falling to Northwestern (8-4, 3-4 Big Ten) 24-18.

The loss was the fourth in-a-row for the Huskies, but marked the first dual since January 8th that the squad put up a double-digit point total.

The win kept Northwestern at a perfect 5-0 against non-conference opponents, and brought them to 6-2 at home this season.

“The main difference when we lost our matches was that we were having trouble getting up off the mat at those middle weights,” said NIU coach Ryan Ludwig. “We need to work in that area to improve.”

Four different Huskies posted wins in the dual. Kevin Fanta came out with a tough win at 141, while the 184, 197 and heavyweight classes all won in style. Fanta has been an unsung hero for the Huskies up to this point. When the season began, he was far from a lock in the starting lineup, let alone a potential NCAA qualifier. As the season has progressed, however, Fanta has shown that his hard work over the offseason allowed him to become one of the top performers in the MAC. He is now 10-3 this season.

“I’m really pleased with Kevin Fanta’s victory,” Ludwig said. “He wrestled a very smart, very contained match and stayed within his style, which helped him once again get the job done. I am not shocked. I expected big things out of Kevin after his outstanding offseason. He worked a lot with his wrestling and strength training and we definitely expected big things out of him this year.”

Another top wrestler in the MAC is NIU’s Brad Dieckhaus, who has been out periodically this the season with injuries. Dieckhaus made a triumphant return to the mat against Northwestern, pinning his opponent early in the third round. Dieckhaus, who is one of only two seniors in the lineup, maintained a top-20 national ranking through his injury stints and is now 8-0.

“Brad was a great boost in the lineup,” Ludwig said. “He took advantage out there and got a good takedown and continued to ride his guy and secure the pin. It was a very dominant match and we were glad to see him out there with no tweaks to his injuries.”

The only other senior in the lineup, Mike Lukowski, had a breakout performance against one of the best wrestlers in his weight class in the country, John Schoen. Lukowski improved his record to 8-5 in his last season as a Huskie. Using experience and poise mixed with grit and physicality, Lukowski edged the 23rd ranked Schoen, 3-1.

“As far as I’m concerned, he has the biggest win of the night,” Ludwig said. “He beat a nationally ranked guy and deserved the win. We talked all week about being prepared for battle, and no one brought the intensity like Mike did. He was a key performer for us.”