Wrestling team starts season off strong with two wins

Huskies shut out Bellarmine Knights, sneak past SIUE Cougars


Jarrett Huff | Northern Star

Then-redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson being announced the winner March 7 after his 8-5 decision win in the 2020 MAC Championship semifinals at the Convocation Center.

James Krause, Sports Editor

DeKALB — The NIU wrestling team started its season on the right foot Sunday in Edwardsville, getting a shutout 46-0 victory against Bellarmine University and edging out a 18-16 win against Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville.

After the shutout of Bellarmine, the Huskies found themselves down 13-3 against SIUE after half of their matches. The Huskies won their next four matches to take a lead and get their first Mid-American Conference win of the season.

Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said the team didn’t perform their best, but two wins is a great way to start the schedule.

“The guys found a way to secure both dual meet victories today, so it was a nice way to start,” Ludwig said in a Sunday NIU Athletics news release. “We are looking to compete at our best, however, and in those terms, we have some work to do. There are some critical situations we will get back to the room and work on as we prepare for our next opponent.”

Redshirt junior Brit Wilson, defending MAC 184-pound champion, picked up pinfall wins in both duals. First-year Lucian Brink started his collegiate career on the right foot with a pair of victories at 125 pounds.


Huskies 46, Knights 0

The Huskies defeated Bellarmine, the first NCAA wrestling program in the state of Kentucky, in convincing fashion by sweeping all 10 contests. NIU got bonus dual points in seven of those contests.

Wilson was among three wrestlers who picked up pinfall victories, joined by redshirt sophomores Izzak Olejnik and Caleb Brooks at 165 and 141 pounds. 

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Gibson found success in his first contest at 157 pounds, getting a technical fall after 4:41. Redshirt sophomore 197-pounder Gage Braun and redshirt senior heavyweight Max Ihry also won with technical falls. 

Brink picked up a 21-10 major decision win with three other Huskies securing decision wins, including redshirt junior Bryce West, who made his debut at 133 pounds.

NIU’s dominance went beyond regulation, with Huskies wrestlers sweeping three exhibition matches. Sophomore Dillon Nichols won a major decision at 149 pounds, while fellow sophomore Johnny Shafer and senior Tristin Gauman each won by decision.


Huskies 18, Cougars 16

Brink opened the conference dual with a 10-5 decision win over SIUE junior Austin Macias at 125 pounds. In the matches that immediately followed, NIU had several chances to pick up points slip through its fingers.

West had control of SIUE redshirt sophomore Aaron Schulist in the closing seconds of the 133 pound match, trailing 10-7. Schulist blocked several attempts by West to gain nearfall points and held on for the Cougars first win.

At 141 pounds, Cougars redshirt sophomore Saul Ervin eliminated the ride time point of Brooks and held off several takedown attempts to get a 6-5 decision win.

NIU sophomore 149-pounder Javion Jones lost his contest in a confusing finish that required a long conversation between coaches and officials before deciding the result. A stalemate was called with five seconds remaining, bringing Jones and SIUE junior Cardeionte Wilson to the center. Cardeionte Wilson quickly shot a takedown before the referees stopped the match again as the clock never started. 

After several minutes of review, the referees ruled Cardeionte Wilson earned two points for a takedown as well as two points for a nearfall, giving him the 7-4 victory over Jones.

Third-ranked 157-pounder junior Justin Ruffin of the Cougars proved to be too much for Gibson in a major decision, making it 13-3 SIU halfway through the dual.

The Huskies got back on track with a 5-2 decision win by Olejnik over sophomore Chase Diehl at 165 pounds. Redshirt junior 174-pound Mason Kauffman won a tough 3-2 bout with senior Kevin Gschwendtner with a takedown in the third period.

Brit Wilson was well in control of his match with junior 184-pounder Ryan Yarnell, but a cradle pinfall at 6:22 gave NIU the bonus points it needed to take a 15-13 lead.

Braun handled business at 197 pounds with a 7-3 decision win, and Ihry forced three overtimes against junior Colton McKiernan before falling 2-1. Braun’s win and Ihry keeping the final contest close helped NIU finish the rally for a 18-16 win.

NIU goes back on the road when they visit the Central Michigan University Chippewas at 2 p.m. Sunday in Mount Pleasant, MI. The dual will be broadcast on ESPN3.