NIU wrestling falls to Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan


NIU’s Jared Torrence concentrates on keeping hold of a Stanford wrestler in a match earlier this season.

By Mike Romor

Despite Nick Smith’s return to the lineup, NIU wrestling failed to pick up wins against two MAC foes over the weekend.

NIU (6-7, 0-4 MAC) lost its first match of the weekend Friday at no. 19 Central Michigan (12-3, 4-0 MAC) before stumbling against Eastern Michigan (10-4, 2-1 MAC) Sunday.

The Huskies were flat from start to finish against the Chippewas in route to a 24-9 loss.

Smith was downed by a major decision at 125 in his first match back from an injury, but Kevin Fanta helped spark the squad in the early going with a decisive 7-2 victory at 141. Only Matt Mougin and Mike Lukowski joined Fanta with wins for the Huskies.

“A lot of our matches were close this weekend,” said NIU coach Ryan Ludwig. “But we need to get in touch with that X-Factor and learn how to come out on top in these close matches.”

Looking to break out of single-digits for the first time against a MAC opponent, the Huskies showed some promise early on against Eastern Michigan.

Smith recorded a solid victory to start off the dual, notching a 13-6 victory over Jared Germaine to bring him to 2-1 in conference action.

“Nick Smith got off to a rough start this weekend,” Ludwig said. “It was his first match back in over a month and he didn’t have his weight right so it was rough. But then I thought he did a great job beating a nationally ranked kid from Eastern.”

After a Rob Jillard loss at 133, Fanta picked up his third straight conference win and improved to 9-3 on the season, but the Huskies watched a 6-3 lead turn into a 22-6 deficit while dropping six straight matches.

Jared Torrence ended the day on a positive note for NIU, winning a 3-1 decision at 285. The victory was Torrence’s first conference win of the season, but the end result was a 22-9 NIU defeat.

“Jared had a nice win,” Ludwig said. “He really grinded that one out. He’s getting better every week and is a hard-working kid that I’m proud to see doing well.”

While the Huskies possess a 6-7 record, already an improvement from last year’s 5-11 mark, they are yet to notch more than nine points against a conference opponent and have been outscored 102-30 in those four affairs. Five of the Huskies’ seven losses this season have come against teams ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll.

Senior Brad Dieckhaus continues to miss time for the Huskies with an ankle injury. His replacement, Shane Rosenberry, suffered major decision losses at Central and Eastern Michigan over the weekend.

Despite missing key members of the unit, including Smith and Mougin, who both returned against Central Michigan, Ludwig sees his team being able to turn things around quickly.

“I’m looking forward to a huge push by the end of the year,” Ludwig said. “I think we’re much better and more capable than our dual meet record would indicate.”