TOWN & COUNTRY, Mo. - The Northern Illinois wrestling team placed 14 wrestlers on the podium Saturday at the Kaufman-Brand Open at Maryville University
Leading the way in that group were junior Rob Jillard, freshman Andrew Morse and redshirt junior Jared Torrence. Jillard took first place at 149 pounds, while Morse claimed second at 157 and Torrence was third at heavyweight.
"I'm proud of the way we went out and competed today," said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. "The team is buying into the right concepts and techniques."
Jillard, who hails from Franklinville, N.J., continued his strong start to the season with a 4-0 performance to take top honors at 149. The junior began the day with an 11-4 win over Iowa's Joe DuCharme to advance into the quarterfinals. From there, Jillard moved on to the finals with a pair of one-point wins. First, he narrowly defeated Keenan Hagerty of Maryville, 5-4, then edged Missouri's Brandon Rice to move into the finals. Jillard would cap the day with a 14-3 major decision against Lavion Mayes of Missouri.
Morse's day began with a pair of high-scoring wins to push him into the semifinals. The freshman started with a 10-2 major decision over Illinois' Matt Ruettiger, followed by a 14-7 win against Bobby Williams of Ouachita Baptist. In the semifinals, Morse held off Maryville's Greg Hegarty to move into the finals. However, his day ended on a down note when Illinois' Zac Brunson defeated Morse, 6-2.
At heavyweight, Jared Torrence finished with a third place finish. Torrence would win his first two matches - a 4-2 overtime decision against Missouri Baptist's Luis Contreras and an 8-0 shutout of Maryville's Zack Wilcox - before falling to eventual champion Devon Mellon of Missouri, 3-2, in the semifinals. The redshirt junior from Norwalk, Ohio, rebounded in the consolation bracket with consecutive 6-1 decisions over Julius Anglickas of Missouri Baptist and Oklahoma's Ross Larson to walk away with bronze.
NIU finished with four fourth place finishers on the day in Derek Elmore (125), Tyler Argue (141), Shawn Fayette (149) and Matt Mougin (174). Mougin led the team in pins on the day with five during a long run through the consolation bracket. Similarly, Elmore stuck three opponents on the day, including pinning Baker's Alan Callahan in 10 seconds. Meanwhile, Argue and Fayette each recorded five straight wins to emerge from deep in the wrestlebacks to finish on the podium.
In addition, Trace Engelkes took fifth place at 165 pounds and Parker Settecase was sixth at 197. Five Huskies - Braun Marquez (125), Dan Burk (165), Caleb Busson (184), Arber Bebo (197) and Arthur Bunce (285) - each finished the day in seventh in their respective weight classes.
NIU returns to DeKalb Saturday, Dec. 8, when they host the Michigan State Spartans in the annual NIU Showcase Meet. The action starts at 2 p.m. in the Convocation Center.