NIU wrestling falls to defending MAC champion Mizzou

By James Krause

DeKALB — The wrestling team couldn’t keep up with the reigning Mid-American Conference Champions in a 32-6 loss to the University of Missouri Tigers on Jan. 25 in Columbia.

The Huskies were down by 12 points after a pair of pinfalls by the Tigers in the opening two bouts, with NIU only able to muster two decision wins for the rest of the meet. 

Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said the team has a lot of work to do if it wants to challenge Missouri wrestlers later this year at the MAC Championship.

“We are not pleased with our execution today,” Ludwig said in an NIU Athletics news release. “We know we need to get back in the room and grow from what we learned.”

Among the only NIU wins of the dual was an upset win by redshirt first-year Anthony Gibson at 141 pounds over Missouri redshirt junior Grant Leeth, a former MAC Champion weighing in at 149 pounds. Gibson won 3-2 with a ridetime bonus point after controlling Leeth the entire third period and preventing an escape.

The opening contest came to a stop early when redshirt sophomore Bryce West went off the mat with a head injury in the first period. West returned to finish the contest, being pinned by Missouri redshirt sophomore Cameron Valdiviez after 3:43.

Redshirt sophomore Allan Hart also picked up a pinfall win for Missouri, besting redshirt first-year Caleb Brooks in 1:32.

After the Gibson win, senior McCoy Kent lost in a 10-1 major decision to sophomore Brock Mauller, fourth  ranked among 149 -pounders in the country.

Redshirt senior Dylan Thurston had several opportunities for takedowns late against Missouri sophomore Jarrett Jacques in their matchup at 157 pounds, but Jacques’ defense was too much for Thurston, and he held onto a 5-2 decision win.

In another display of great defense, redshirt first-year Izzak Olejnik only needed a takedown to beat Missouri redshirt first-year Peyton Mocco. Olejnik shot for a takedown in the closing seconds of the third period, but Mocco reversed to hold onto a 1-0 win after a challenge by NIU.

Redshirt first-year Jeremiah Kent continued the Tigers’ impressive defensive performance with a 5-2 victory over redshirt senior Kenny Moore at 174 pounds.

Redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson suffered his first bonus point loss of the season, in a 11-3 major decision loss to redshirt senior Dylan Wisman, the defending 184 pound MAC champion.

Redshirt first-year Gage Braun lost in a 9-3 decision to Missouri redshirt junior Wyatt Koelling at 197 pounds, leaving the final matchup of the day between heavyweights.

NIU redshirt junior Max Ihry and redshirt senior Jake Bohlken from Missouri went into overtime after both getting escapes in regulation. In overtime, Ihry secured a takedown for a sudden victory to make the finals score less lopsided at 32-6 Tigers.

The Tigers, with another win that day against Cleveland State University, have secured the MAC regular season title for the eighth straight year. NIU stands at 3-2 in conference duals, tied with Cleveland State for second in the West Division.

The Huskies’ road run of MAC teams will continue 5 p.m. Saturday. when they face one-win Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.