Wrestlers to continue with individual competition


When the Huskie wrestlers battled Illinois State University last Thursday, it was a re-match between two interstate rivals. The host Redbirds got the revenge they were looking for against the Huskies, who beat them last year at Chick Evans Field House.

The result this time was a 29-15 victory for the Redbirds (10-6), putting an end to the Huskies’ dual-meet season at 6-9.

Both teams started the evening forfeiting two weight classes a piece: the Redbirds forfeited at 118 and 126 pounds, and the Huskies forfeited 158 and 190 pounds. Shannon Gregory and Shawn White earned the forfeits for the Huskies, which was good for an early 12-0 lead, but the Redbirds came back and won the next two weight classes at 134 and 142 pounds to cut the Huskie lead to 12-8.

James Spillman (19-9) came back with a 5-2 decision at 150 pounds, giving the Huskies a 15-8 cushion. However, the Huskies remained stuck at 15, as they watched the Redbirds reel off 21 straight points.

T.C. Dantzler, the Huskie ring leader, was sick and unable to make the trip, which resulted in the forfeit at 158 pounds, making the score a one-point match at 15-14. At 167 pounds, Jim Kossakowski (24-6) suffered only his sixth loss of the season at the hands of ISU’s Matt Gruska, in a 7-5 decision, enabling ISU to move ahead by the score of 17-15.

ISU’s Pat Duggan scored a 4-2 decision over Chad Gautcher at 177 pounds, and NIU’s Kyle Edwards lost a 5-2 decision at heavyweight.

“We lost a couple of close matches that ended up being the difference in the dual,” said assistant coach Wayne Petterson. “If we could have won those close matches, we would have won the meet. Instead we ended up on the short end of the stick. Overall we didn’t wrestle very well, and a big reason had to do with T.C. not being there. He’s a big motivator out there. He’s the one who gets us going.”

If T.C. and Company want to get it going, they still have a chance as the season isn’t over for the Huskies. Instead a new one will start on Saturday, March 6, when the Huskies travel to Charleston to compete individually for the NCAA West Regional Championships.

After the West Regionals it’s off to Ames, IA, for the NCAA Wrestling Championships. However, to make it there a team has to take first place at regionals weight class, or come in second place and hope for a wild card spot.

Dantzler, is looking for his fourth consecutive NCAA Championship appearance and is one of the favorites to win the 158-pound class this year. However, the Huskie senior has been making the trip solo the last couple of years and would like nothing better than to have a few of his teammates accompany him.

One Huskie who has earned the respect is Kossakowski, who is also a senior and knows this is the last year to prove himself. “This is the last meet,” said Kossakowski. “I’m happy the dual-season is over, because now it’s a brand new season and we can start focusing on what we’ve been working on all season.”

Other Huskie grapplers who would like to show their wrestling skills off at Charleston and hope for a bid to Nationals are 118-pounder Shannon Gregory, 150-pounder James Spillman, and 177-pounder Chad Gautcher.

“This week off will do us good and get us ready for Saturday and the regional meet,” said Petterson. “We’ll get some hard practicing in this week.”