Wrestlers tangle for team position


Senior Pat McLemore, pictured, defeated senior Tristen DeShazer 3-1 with a takedown in this weekend’s Wrestle Offs.

By Mike Buda

Wrestling season began Friday night with the annual NIU Wrestle-Offs with Huskie grapplers fighting for 10 starting positions for the upcoming year.

The 2010 NIU Wrestle-Offs proved to be exciting in an 18-16 red over black victory where four seniors and three freshmen grabbed starting spots at night’s end.

“They were very competitive matches and the nice thing is guys are going to have to work really hard to make the team,” said NIU head coach Dave Grant. “We just need to keep guys motivated and our matches were pretty close.”

The most anticipated matchup of the night pitted two NCAA qualifiers against one another in seniors Pat McLemore and Tristen DeShazer in the 141-pound class.

Tied at one after three periods, McLemore scored a takedown and grabbed a 3-1 decision in overtime.

Two time NCAA qualifier Bryan Deutsch muscled over freshman Sam Bennett in an 8-5 decision in the 157-pound class.

The two other senior victories came as Dakota Greenhaw defeated redshirt freshman Jared Torrence in a 3-1 decision and Vince Castillo beat freshman Donny Simpson with a 4-2 decision.

The seniors weren’t the only ones taking decisions during NIU’s opening night.

“I was pretty impressed with our true freshman Nick Smith,” Grant said. “It doesn’t happen all that often for a true freshman to win at wrestle-offs.”

Smith, who will be wrestling at 125 this season, faced redshirt sophomore and 133-pound Chris Smith in an exhibition due to Zach Taylor’s, who is also at 125, injury.

The lone 125-pounder took down his slightly larger teammate in a 9-5 decision.

Redshirt freshmen Matt Mougin and Dan Burk battled at 165, but it was Mougin who quickly took the fall in just 21 seconds.

Grant was awed with how well his youth and experienced squad performed Friday, but there’s still work that needs to be done before this Saturday’s Michigan State Open.

“We need to go back and revisit some of the stuff that we worked on,” Grant said. “I wouldn’t think there was anything we haven’t worked on and now we better start to, but I think it’s more or less we worked on it and now we need to work on it again.”