DeKALB — March 7 and March 8 are booked for the 2020 Mid-American Conference Championships at the Convocation Center. The MAC is now home to 15 wrestling programs, split into two divisions.
“Hosting the MAC Championship this year will be special because it’s the inaugural year of the 15 team conference,” Head Coach Ryan Ludwig said. “The tournament will be among the most elite NCAA qualification events in the county. NIU has an outstanding opportunity to showcase the communiversity.”
Four back-to-back MAC matches highlight the wrestling team’s regular season.
“We had some incredibly tight duals with MAC opponents last season,” Ludwig said. “Most of the duals were hotly contested, which makes the MAC an awesome conference for wrestling fans. It’s incredibly competitive.”
NIU will open the season at the Michigan State University Open 8 a.m. Nov. 2. Bucknell University will visit the Huskies 7 p.m. Nov. 15 before the team hosts the Huskie duals. Harper College and Rider University will participate in the duals. Duals are set for noon Nov. 17.
Three matches will follow when the Huskies participate in the Purdue Duals. NIU will face MAC opponents Clarion University, University of Indianapolis and Purdue University. Duals are set for 9 a.m.
“Our philosophy is to improve each day and be prepared for the next competitive opportunity,” Ludwig said. “We strive to be ready to perform at our best in whatever the situation demands. We want to be mentally strong enough to respond well to anything.”
NIU will travel to Urbana-Champaign to face the University of Illinois 7 p.m. Dec. 6. Last season, the Huskies fell to the Illini, 24-9.
The Huskies will face newly-formed MAC West divisional rivals Kent State University at home to kick off divisional play. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 18.
Winter break will stop MAC play, but the Huskies will participate in the Midland Championship in Hoffmann Estates. The meet is set for Dec. 29 and Dec. 30. Meet time is to be determined.
After the break, the Huskies will close out the regular season with nine matches including six divisional duals.
Central Michigan University will visit the Huskies 2 p.m. Jan. 5.
California sunshine will be the back drop for NIU’s trip to California Polytechnic State University. Face-off is set for 5 p.m. Jan. 10 in San Luis Obispo, California.
The Huskies will be back at home court when the University of Arkansas – Little Rock visits. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Jan. 15.
NIU will follow with five MAC matches, beginning with a trip to Columbia, Missouri when it faces the University of Missouri Tigers Jan. 25. Time is to be announced.
Three road matches in nine days will test the Huskies, but Ryan said the team will not be rattled.
“Road matches don’t bother the team,” Ludwig said. “I think we bond well as we travel. We look forward to the challenges that bring us closer throughout the season.”
First, NIU will visit Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville. Faceoff is set for 5 p.m. Feb. 1.
The Huskies will have five days of rest before facing Cleveland State University. Faceoff is set for 6 p.m. Feb. 7 in Cleveland.
NIU will face Ohio University after a quick turnaround. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 9 in Athens, Ohio. The Bobcats defeated NIU in last year’s regular season bout. Ohio took an overtime victory 21-18 during NIU’s Beauty and the Beast competition Jan. 27.
Two home matches will help NIU close the regular season in front of their crowd. The University of Buffalo will visit NIU for the last MAC divisional match of the season. Faceoff is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 14.
Drexel University will be the last opponent and face off is set for 7 p.m. Feb. 21.
Qualifying Huskie grapplers will be set to participate at the NCAA Championships in Minneapolis. The Championships will begin March 19 and end March 21.