Wrestling squad pinned by ISU

By Fred Konrath

The NIU wrestling team finally wrestled a match in DeKalb, but the final outcome was an Illinois State victory, 24-18 at Chick Evans Field House last night.

The Huskies, who have wrestled most of this season on the road, and the Redbirds met for the second time this season, and for the second straight time, the teams were tied heading into the heavyweight match—only to have ISU win. The score was tied at 18-18 before the Redbirds registered a pin at heavyweight.

Shannon Gregory gave the Huskies an early 3-0 lead with a 5-4 decision at 118-pounds, but the Redbirds came back and won the next four matches to take an 18-3 lead. Twelve of those points came from a pin of John Willems at 126-pounds, and a forfeit at 142-pounds. Bill Walsh, 134-pounds, was ahead 3-1 early in the third period, before losing a 9-5 decision, and Jim Gussman lost a 13-7 decision at 150 pounds.

The Huskies followed the Redbirds string and won their next four matches with T.C. Dantzler earning the Huskies six points and leading the crowd and the team with a default at 158 pounds. Dantzler was leading 15-5 in the third period, before his ISU opponent went out with an ankle injury. “It gets me more riled up to wrestle at home, and you don’t feel the effects of being on the road for six hours at a time. Plus, it’s easier to get geared up,” said Dantzler, who improved his record to 12-3.

Chad Gautcher won an impressive match at 167 pounds by fighting off an elbow injury he sustained in the match from an illegal hold. Gautcher picked himself up and won 7-6. “I talked to him on the mat when he was hurt,” NIU head coach Ed Vatch said, “and he told me, ‘he beat me before and he’s not going to beat me again!'” Gautcher was pinned by his ISU opponent earlier in the year.

Courtney Pitter easily won his 177-pound match, 10-5, and Mel Heckman came right back with a 6-3 decision at 190-pounds to help the Huskies tie the team score at 18-18.

“Chad McCrimmon gave us everything we asked of in the heavyweight match,” Vatch said. “We knew it was going to go down to the wire and Chad was there to help us if we needed him, he just ran out of gas.”

The Huskies next, and final, meet is at the fieldhouse, Friday at noon, against Central Michigan.