Wrestling drops first match of season in Mount Pleasant


Jackson Gillette | Northern Star

Then-redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson grapples Feb. 14 with his Bull opponent during NIU’s 19-16 win at Victor E. Court.

James Krause, Sports Editor

DeKALB — Several bonus point losses cost the Huskies wrestling team against the Central Michigan University Chippewas Sunday, losing 22-14 for their first match of the season.

After giving up bonus point losses in three of their first five matches, major decision wins by redshirt sophomore Izzak Olejnik and redshirt junior Brit Wilson weren’t enough to pull NIU out of the deficit.

Head Coach Ryan Ludwig was not in attendance for the meet due to needing to quarantine. Assistant Coaches Dominick Moyer and Kyle Springer took over head coaching duties in Mount Pleasant, MI.

Ludwig still commented on the match in an NIU Athletics news release; he said appreciated the competitiveness his team showed.

“It was a hard-fought dual meet,” Ludwig said. “Bonus points make a difference. Olejnik and Wilson worked very hard to secure bonus-point victories. That’s the competitive spirit we are looking for. West and Kauffman put together some hard-fought wins over quality opponents as well. We will continue to sharpen as we head into next week.”

NIU was within a match heading into the final two contests, including a rematch of the 197-pound third place match at the Mid-American Conference Championships last season between NIU redshirt junior Gage Braun  and redshirt senior Landon Pelham. In the end, Braun and redshirt senior heavyweight Max Ihry dropped close decisions.

The Chippewas stacked roster, which includes six national qualifiers and three defending MAC champions, proved too much for some of the lighter weight classes. Redshirt junior 133-pounder Bryce West’s decision win was NIU’s only of the front half of their lineup.

First-year Lucian Brink was outmatched by redshirt senior and defending 125-pound champion Drew Hilderbrandt, losing by technical fall at the conclusion of the third period. 

At 141 pounds, redshirt junior defending MAC champion Dresden Simon squeaked out a last-second takedown on redshirt sophomore Caleb Brooks, turning an 8-1 decision win into a 10-1 major decision win for bonus points.

Sophomore 149-pounder Javion Jones gave up three points in the third period to redshirt sophomore Corbyn Munson and was unable to find any offense, losing a 3-1 decision.

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Gibson couldn’t keep pace with redshirt first-year Johnny Lovette, an athletic 157-pounder who went 20-9 last season. Lovette secured a major decision win that made the team scores 16-3 at the mid-way point.

NIU closed the gap in the second half of their meet, starting with a 12-1 major decision win by redshirt sophomore Izzak Olejnik at 165 pounds.

A pair of escapes were the only scores between redshirt junior 174-pounders Mason Kauffman of NIU and Jake Lowell of CMU until mid-way through the final period when Kauffman secured a takedown. Kauffman allowed an escape and held off late shots by Lowell to get a 3-2 decision win.

Redshirt junior Brit Wilson had full control of his 184-pound contest against redshirt Ben Cushman, getting well over four minutes of ride time. The ride time point helped Wilson to a 9-1 major decision win, getting NIU within two points of the tying CMU in team points.

In the third match between Braun and Pelham, Pelham secured the win with good defense down the stretch and a ride time point to seal a 9-6 decision win. 

CMU locked up the team win with the redshirt senior defending heavyweight champion Matt Stencel, getting a 6-2 decision over Ihry. CMU won by a final score of 22-14, getting revenge for an upset loss to NIU last season.

NIU still sits at 2-1 in dual meets with two more coming up Saturday when they travel to Columbia, MO. The Huskies face the Ohio University Bobcats and the University of Missouri Tigers in their second doubleheader of the season. Time and broadcast details have yet to be announced.