Wrestlers create interest before falling

Just when the NIU wrestling team made things interesting, Eastern Illinois bounced back to pick up a 28-14 dual-meet victory Sunday at Charleston.

The Huskies trailed by a 19-5 margin after the first five weight classes, but T.C. Dantzler came through with a 12-7 decision at 167 while Courtney Pitter scored an impressive pin in the 177-pound bout to put NIU within range at 19-14. However, the Panthers added a decision and a pin of their own to improve their record to 4-1-0, while NIU dropped to 1-5-0 on the year.

The Huskies started on a positive note as Shannon Gregory scored a 2-0 triumph over John Wentz in the opening 118-pound match-up. Unfortunately, EIU chalked up a pin and two major decisions in the next three weight classes to jump ahead by a 14-3 count. While NIU’s Jim Gussman and EIU’s Gino Fioravanti battled to a 4-4 draw at 150 pounds to give both teams two points. The Panthers added three more with a win at 158.

That was when Dantzler recorded a 12-7 triumph over Bob Johnson that included near fall points. Pitter rallied the Huskie hopes even higher with his 2:07 pin of Chris Schott.

“T.C. is really starting to get back into wrestling form. We really thought he deserved a pin, but he didn’t get it. If he gets a pin and Courtney follows with his pin, it could have been a different match altogether,” NIU coach Ed Vatch said. “Courtney really looked tough. He was dominant. He had three takedowns and a near fall well before he got the pin. Although Mel (Heckman) lost, he wrestled with a lot of heart. He hurt his shoulder, but kept going and had a shot at winning his match.”

NIU returns to action Saturday with a doubly-difficult test as the Huskies travel to Notre Dame to take on the Irish and Lehigh University.