DeKALB — Winning two of three matchups isn’t bad for the wrestling team, who came out of the Purdue Duals with a 4-2 overall record, and its first win in Mid-American Conference play, on Sunday.
The Huskies won their conference matchup with Clarion 19-17 to open the event before beating out the University of Indianapolis 36-9. NIU only managed a pair of wins against host Purdue University in a 31-8 loss.
Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said since their conference opening loss to Rider University Nov. 17, the team has made strides in the right direction.
“We’re proud of the way we competed today,” Ludwig said in an NIU Athletics press release. “We battled through some adversity in our lineup with health and scraped out some big wins. This group is making gains.”
NIU 19, Clarion 17
With NIU forced to forfeit its 133-pound match due to injury, the win against Clarion lied in the 125-pound match between redshirt sophomore Bryce West and Clarion’s redshirt senior Jake Gromacki. West edged out Gromacki for a 4-2 decision win.
Redshirt sophomore Mason Kauffman gave NIU its first points in a narrow 3-2 decision win over junior Avery Shay in the 157-weight class. Other decision wins by redshirt first-year Izzak Olejnik and redshirt senior Kenny Moore helped the Huskies make up for an early technical-fall loss by NIU.
Former NCAA qualifier and redshirt sophomore Brit Wilson won a 19-7 major decision in the 184-weight class to widen the gap. Redshirt first-year Gage Braun followed Wilson’s win with an upset victory over nationally-ranked redshirt junior Greg Bulsak in the 197-weight class.
NIU 36, Indianapolis 9
Redshirt first-year 141 pounder Nathan Swartz recovered from a technical fall in his first match of the day with a pinfall win in the first round. The Huskie defeated redshirt junior Matt McKinney. Redshirt first-years Anthony Gibson and Terrese Aaron also picked up pinfall wins in the opening period. Gibson beat sophomore Tylan Tucker in the 149-weight class, and Aaron pinned sophomore Jack Williams in the 285-weight class.
NIU saw two more upsets in the Indianapolis matchup, starting with redshirt senior Caden McWhirter winning a decision over nationally ranked sophomore Gleason Mappes in the 174-weight class. Wilson also pulled off an upset decision, besting redshirt senior Brody Connor.
Braun picked up a 22-5 technical fall, while West secured a major decision.
No. 25 Purdue 31, NIU 8
The wins over ranked opponents didn’t carry over into the Purdue meet, where Huskie wrestlers met four ranked opponents. Redshirt senior McCoy Kent came closest to a win, losing in a one-point decision redshirt junior Griffin Parriott in the 149-weight class.
McWhirter did see his momentum carry over in his battle against junior Max Lyon in the 184-weight class, pinning the Boilermaker in 5:50 minutes before being docked a team point for throwing his headgear.
Aaron picked up NIU’s only other win of the meet, a 9-4 decision win.
The Huskies return to the Land of Lincoln with another Big Ten Conference meet, this time against the University of Illinois. Face off is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 4. in Champaign.