NIU wrestling fell short against Michigan State

By Mike Buda

Leads have been easy to come by this season for the NIU wrestling team, but holding on to them has been a different story.

The Huskies fell for the third straight time after a 20-15 loss to Michigan State (4-1) in DeKalb on Friday.

“I thought we did a great job in the first half,” said NIU head coach Dave Grant. “We had some good opportunities in the second half that we didn’t capitalize on and eventually we couldn’t put it away.”

NIU was holding on to a 15-3 lead before giving up 17 straight points while losing the final five matches.

Freshman Nick Smith started off the dual with an 8-1 decision over junior Eric Olanowski, which also put him at a team best 9-2 in his first season.

“He’s a going machine,” Grant said. “He’s going to get better and better, he’s one of the guys to watch and every week he improves.”

The lead would double to 12-0 as senior Tristen DeShazer kept on rolling with a pin in just 31 seconds into the first half.

Senior Vince Castillo would be the only loss in the first half of matches as he was taken down in a 4-2 decision to sophomore Dan Osterman for his sixth straight defeat.

No. 19 senior Bryan Deutsch redeemed himself against No. 13 David Cheeza with a 10-5 decision after Cheeza came out as the victor when the two met at the Michigan State Open in mid-November.

184-pound junior Brad Dieckhaus was out due to an injured knee and Grant believes his absence may have altered the result.

“Brad’s one of the top ranked guys on our team and we needed one win in those five weights to win the dual meet,” said Grant. “Obviously, that would have been a pretty nice situation to be in.”

With Deutsch’s win, the Huskies (1-3) led 15-3, but would not see another team point for the rest of the night.

The meet came down to heavyweight senior Dakota Greenhaw for the fourth time this season with NIU down 17-15.

Greenhaw lost the final match in a 7-3 decision, but Grant doesn’t put everything on the senior.

“He happens to be the last one to wrestle, but there are nine other people wrestling before that need to get the job done as well,” Grant said.

From here, NIU’s schedule gets even busier and tougher when winter break rolls in.

The Huskies travel to Dubuque, Iowa for the Fox Open on the 18th and then it’s down to Edwardsville, Ill. for duals against Findlay and Northwestern on the 19th.

NIU will then compete at the Midlands Championships in Evanston on the two days preceding New Years Eve and then the Harper Open in Palatine, Ill. on the 5th of January.

Mid-American Conference play then begins with No. 10 Central Michigan on the 6th and Ohio on the 14th before returning from break.

Grant and his grapplers believe they are in the right mindset to make a big push over this month stretch of strong competition.

“We’re going in and wrestling these Big Ten teams and we’re taking it right down to the wire,” said Grant. “The guys are pretty motivated knowing that they’re close.”

Score board

-Michigan State 20, Northern Illinois 15

125 – Nick Smith (NIU) dec. Eric Olanowski (MSU), 8-1, NIU 3-0

133 – Kevin Fanta (NIU) dec. Josh Harper (MSU), 4-2, NIU 6-0

141 – Tristen DeShazer (NIU) fall Joel Trombly (MSU), :31, NIU 12-0

149 – Dan Osterman (MSU) dec. Vince Castillo (NIU), 4-2, NIU 12-3

157 – No. 19 Bryan Deutsch (NIU) dec. No. 13 David Cheza (MSU), 10-5, NIU 15-3

165 – Ben Bourdo (MSU) dec. Matt Mougin (NIU),4-1, NIU 15-6

174 – Curran Jacobs (MSU) major dec. Zach Benzio (NIU), 15-5, NIU 15-10

184 – Ian Hinton (MSU) major dec. Caleb Busson (NIU), 10-2, NIU 15-14

197 – Tyler Dickenson (MSU) dec. Mike Lukowski (NIU), 3-2, MSU 17-15

285 – Mike McClure (MSU) dec. Dakota Greenhaw (NIU), 7-3, MSU 20-15