Top wrestlers featured at Northern Iowa triangular

By Fred Konrath

The NIU wrestling team will have its work cut out when it travels to Cedar Falls, Iowa, Saturday to take on Northern Iowa and Illinois State.‘

Host Northern Iowa will greet the Huskies and the Redbirds as one of the top five teams in the nation. The Panthers will also throw three wrestlers at the Huskies who are individually ranked among the top six in the nation and one who is ranked in the top ten.

T.C. Dantzler (158 pounds) will square up against a Northern Iowa wrestler ranked No. 10 who the Huskie captain defeated in the finals of the West Regional last year. “T.C. would be ranked right there with him, if he had more matches,” head coach Ed Vatch said. Dantzler missed the first month of the wrestling season due to football.

Courtney Pitter (177 pounds) grapples the No. 1 ranked wrestler in his weight class and will test his own abilities as a collegiate wrestler, while Jim Gussman (150 pounds) and Mel Heckman (190 pounds) wrestle against two Panthers ranked among the top six individually.

The Redbirds from ISU will give the Huskies some tough competition also. They are recently coming off their own tournament victory. “ISU’s having a pretty good year,” Vatch said. “They had some top teams in their tournament and they showed they’re a good team by winning it.”

After this weekend, the next time the Huskies will travel to Cedar Falls will be for the NCAA West Regional Championships, exactly one month away. And the Huskies know that the same wrestlers they’ll face this weekend will be back for regionals.