Hooiser Duals on tap for NIU wrestling

By Mike Romor

NIU wrestling will travel to Bloomington, Ind. this weekend to partake in the Hoosier Duals.

NIU will open the event against host Indiana (3-0), before facing SIU-Edwardsville and Campbell (3-2).

The duals will be the first head-to-head competition for SIUE, while Campbell is coming off of back-to-back home wins against Davidson and South Dakota State.

The event is the first quad of the season for NIU (1-1). After a 1-2 showing in last season’s showcase, including a 22-18 loss to Indiana, NIU looks to go into the quad and run the table.

“I expect to win every dual,” said NIU coach Ryan Ludwig. “I think we’re capable of winning all three of the duals. They’re going to be really good battles. All three of the teams will come ready to roll. They are well-prepared, well-coached teams and we’re going to have to wrestle our best to beat those guys, but that’s what I expect.”

It could be tough for the young Huskies to go in and accomplish that, with seniors Brad Dieckhaus and Mike Lukowski both questionable for the weekend matches.

Lukowski hyperextended his knee last week and has yet to be completely cleared for matwork. The starter at 197 would be facing one of the best wrestlers in the country at that weight class: Indiana’s Matt Powless. Powless finished eighth in the NCAA Championships and led the Big Ten with 39 wins last season.

Dieckhaus will not know if he can hit the mats until Wednesday and will travel with the team this weekend. Despite not yet being cleared to go out this weekend, Dieckhaus is ready for the weekend.

“I want to go 3-0 with three pins,” Dieckhaus said. “I have just been being extremely intense because I started full [practices] here not even seven days ago. My workouts have been crisp and intense and I’ve been working on some fine-tuning. My level of intensity has been extremely high.”

Other than Lukowski and Dieckhaus, the lineup looks to be in full order. Starting at 125, Nick Smith has been just as dominant in the early going this season as he was during his 22-9 freshman campaign. Smith picked up two of those wins at last season’s quad, including a pin against Justin Brooks of Indiana.

“I think they have a different guy [at 125] this year, but I’m looking forward to my match against Indiana,” Smith said. “I want to win all three of my matches and do the best that I can.”

Ludwig acknowledged that Indiana’s 125, Zach Zimmer, is right up there with Smith as one of the top wrestlers in his class in the nation, while also noting an interesting rematch.

“Their 125-pounder is nationally ranked, as is Nick, so that will be a great matchup,” Ludwig said. “We’re really looking forward to seeing Ryan Nieman again, who Rob [Jillard] lost a narrow one to at [the Michigan State Open]. I’m looking for all 10 guys to make an impact this weekend because that’s w