NIU learns from Illini loss

By Fred Konrath

After a loss to the University of Illinois on Friday, head coach Phil Rembert’s wrestling squad (2-3) is looking for the consistency his wrestlers showed over the past month, where his Huskies surprised everyone, but himself, at The Midlands and the Michigan State Open.

However, a disappointing loss in the hands of the Illini at home, put a damper to the Huskies high hopes of a strong second half start.

NIU gave the Illini a 12-point cushion due to forfeits at 190-pounds and at heavyweight and were also missing two starters due to injuries, something Rembert was leery about early on in the season.

“Our spirits are still high and we know we have a long season,” said Rembert. “We knew we were outnumbered going into the (Illinois) match, and we know we can beat people. I think our guys are going to come back and do well.”

Three grapplers who haven’t lost their consistency on the mat, are Shannon Gregory, T.C. Dantzler, and Jim Kossakowski.

While Kossakowski and Dantzler lead the Huskies at the higher weights, Gregory continues to earn early points for the Huskies at 118-pounds.

“Shannon has been one of the biggest surprises, and I had the confidence in “Koz” (Jim Kossakowki) and knew he would be a national competitor,” said Rembert.

T.C. has already proven himself; he just has to prove he can be a National Champ. Which he truly can do. He’s one of the best in the country on his feet and can explode to beat anyone.”

Other wrestlers as of late, who are starting the second half strong, are freshmen Shawn White (126-pounds) and Eric Muhammed (134-pounds). Both wrestled aggressive over break and lost close matches against the Illini.

The Huskies take on another Big Ten foe, that coming against Indiana University, on Saturday, Jan. 23rd at Bloomington Ind., where NIU will be looking to even their dual-meet record. “At this point, we’re right where we want to be. But, we have to do some rebuilding from injuries, and get in better shape and take these teams in straight duals,” said a determined Rembert.