Moment has arrived for NIU grappler Dantzler

By Fred Konrath

Ever since his first-round loss in last year’s NCAA Wrestling Tournament, NIU’s T.C. Dantzler has been waiting anxiously for this moment.

Dantzler will square off today with the top wrestlers in the nation, as the first round of the NCAA Wrestling Championships get underway in Oklahoma City, Okla. For three days the best wrestlers in the nation will grapple their way for honors to be the best among their class.

Last year’s loss is turning into a blessing in disguise for the Huskie 158-pounder. After starting the wrestling season late due to carrying the ball for the NIU football team, Dantzler is back in form and ready for his third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. He also believes his chances this year are better than his previous two.

The last two years, Dantzler was satisfied just to make it, but this year is a different story. “This year I want it more. I’m a lot more mature, and I know a lot more about myself,” Dantzler said. “On top of that I feel I deserve it. I’ve wrestled against top wrestlers and beat them. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be knocking at the door for number one.”

When aked if he was going to do anything different this year, Dantzler replied, “I’m concentrating on drills and praying a lot more. I’ve been there before so I’m not nervous, it’s to the point where I’m too anxious. It’s all mental and it’s going to come down to who wrestles the best in three days.”

Assistant coach Phil Rembert, who has been working out with Dantzler over Spring Break and this week, feels Dantzler has all the tools necessary to contend with the best.

“Football has helped him the most, because he started late and his peak point was at the right time, which is now. He looks the best I’ve ever seen him,” Rembert said. Last year Rembert remembers seeing Dantzler wrestle the whole season and flattening out at this time because his peak was in January. “He looks real good and technically he has everything together. I think he should come back an All-American (placing in the top eight of your weight class),” Rembert said.

However, Dantzler is not thinking about placing. He’s going for it all. “I feel I can win it. I have just a good shot as anyone else. Its’ going to come down to how bad I want it. I’m going to win it and take first,” said a very self-assured Dantzler. “You shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you still land among the stars.”

The third time’s a charm, and for T.C. Dantzler, he wants nothing more than to advance to the medal rounds on Saturday.