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DeKALB — As part of the Huskie Duals, NIU suffered a loss Sunday in its first conference meet of the season to Rider University, 26-6, before picking up a win over Harper College, 46-6.

"That was a tough match [with] very hard fought battles," Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said. "I give a lot of credit to [the Broncs]. They came out and scrapped really hard. They won the majority of the hard, nasty, scrappy battles."

Redshirt senior McCoy Kent, in the 149 weight class, and redshirt first-year Izzak Olejnik, in the 165 pound weight class, were the only wins for NIU against Rider, both by slim decision. Olejnik won his contest 8-6 against redshirt first-year Joe Casey with a two-point near fall as time expired.

Redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson nearly pulled off his own last-second win when he shot in on redshirt sophomore George Walton in the 184-weight class as time expired. Wilson failed to get the points, and Walton picked up the 7-6 decision.

Ludwig said the Rider meet will be used as a benchmark moving forward for what NIU needs to work on ahead of other Mid-American Conference competition.

“The biggest thing we need to work on is that in anything we do, we do it with a purpose,” Ludwig said. “We want to do it with a lot of energy and fight. We have to make adjustments throughout a match.”

After the tough loss, the Huskies dominated Harper in the second half of their duels. The only loss the Huskies suffered was a forfeit at 133 pounds.

Ludwig said meets against lower-level competition like Harper, based out of Palatine, Illinois, are a great way to give experience to the young guys, while also scouting potential recruits from community colleges.

“We’ve recruited their athletes before, so I think it’s good to have that back and forth connection,” Ludwig said. “They want to face teams like us to get prepared for their matches during the year and we want to see them compete.”

The wrestling team returns to action this weekend in West Lafayette, Indiana, taking part in three meets in the Purdue Duals. 

NIU’s first match is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sunday.

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DeKALB — The wrestling team split its 10 matchups Friday against the University of Illinois, but two major decision losses and a forfeit in the Illini’s favor kept the Huskies from taking an upset win.