Panthers, Redbirds pin losses on NIU

By Fred Konrath

Sixth-ranked Northern Iowa wrestled like its ranking and Illinois State wrestled just well enough to hand the NIU wrestling team two dual-meet losses over the weekend.

Northern Iowa shut out the Huskies 51-0, with the only close match coming from a hard fought T.C. Dantzler match at 158 pounds. Dantzler, who beat Northern Iowa’s Jamie Byrne in last year’s regional finals, lost the match (6-4) on some close calls. The UNI Panthers, who are contending for the national title, also beat on the ISU Redbirds 45-5.

Against Illinois State, the Huskies came up short, (30-24) as the team score was tied 24-24, before NIU had to forfeit the heavyweight match. Both teams gave each other twelve points in forfeits and split the remaining six matches. Unfortunately, ISU’s three wins were all pins.

The Huskie wins came from Shannon Gregory, a 5-4 decision at 118; a Dantzler pin at 158; and Courtney Pitter’s 9-3 decision at 177.

“T.C. lost a close one (against UNI), especially some close calls where he didn’t get points we thought he deserved. But he came back from that loss to get a pin victory against ISU and that says a lot for T.C.,” NIU coach Ed Vatch said. “Courtney was wrestling really well against the No. 1 rated 177-pounder in the country, until (UNI’s Rich) Powers showed his experience in getting a pin.”

NIU will keep its bags packed once more as they travel next weekend to Columbia, Mo., to wrestle the University of Missouri and Indiana University.

Then the Huskies will wrestle in DeKalb for the first time since Dec. 5., when they look forward to the rematch against ISU (Feb 26.) at Chick Evans Field House. NIU will then close its season at home Feb. 28 against visitors Central Michigan.