Assistant wrestling coach Ryan Tomei assists head coach in combating lineup concerns

By Mike Romor

In his first season as head coach of NIU wrestling, Ryan Ludwig has done his best to immediately address concerns in his team’s lineup. One way of combating the concerns was bringing in volunteer assistant coach Ryan Tomei.

Tomei wrapped up his senior season at Pittsburgh. Early on in his final year, he talked with Ludwig about coming to the Huskies to further his aspirations of continuing his wrestling career and becoming a coach.

“I needed to find a place where I can coach, learn the idea of coaching, as well as having a place where I can train all the time,” Tomei said. “[NIU] is in a good area where I can go other places with training partners with it being in the center of the country.”

Since Tomei came to NIU with limited knowledge of the program, he spent most of his time early on in the season acclimating himself to the team while coaching the 184, 197 and heavyweight classes.

Tomei goes over film and techniques with the wrestlers from those classes and spends plenty of time in the weight room working out with the grapplers.

“He’s been able to give hands-on experience with the guys,” said NIU senior Brad Dieckhaus. “He shares a unique aspect from coming from one of the top heavyweights in the country to now competing internationally. He’s a top-notch guy; he’s energetic and he’s passionate about the sport.”

Tomei’s top priority is to become an Olympic wrestler. Training for the U.S. Open, which takes places Dec. 3, Tomei hopes his opportunity to work with the Huskies has proven enough to get him to the Olympic Trials.

“The top three qualify for the Olympic Trials, so I’m hoping to win or at least be in the top three,” Tomei said. “I wrestled a couple weeks ago at a tournament. It was my first one back, so I was a little rusty and just didn’t have the right drive. The [U.S. Open] is solely U.S. guys and it’s in Vegas. I’ll then be going to the training center in February and competing there, then there’s one in Cedar Falls in March. It’s about every month and a half that there’s competition and that’s the one good thing about Ryan [Ludwig] allowing me to train and try to make the Olympic team.”

Ludwig was well-aware of Tomei’s busy schedule as he continues to try and compete at the international level. Ludwig is willing to allow Tomei to train for tournaments, provided he brings more aggressiveness and skills to the heavier part of the lineup.

“I think any time you can have a high-caliber heavyweight like Ryan Tomei come in and work with your upper-weight guys on a daily basis, that’s going to elevate their level of wrestling,” Ludwig said. “He’s still wrestling so he has that level of intensity on the mat that our upper-weights can experience first-hand when wrestling him. He’s a bit younger so he’s a bit more of a brother-like figure for the guys to help guide them, which is nice. It’s good to have a guy who just finished his college career so our guys can relate to him in that way.”