DEKALB – The Northern Illinois wrestling team’s return home after a month-long road trip was not a warm one, as the Huskies lost to Mid-American Conference foe Ohio, 32-13.
With the loss, NIU drops to 7-4 overall and 0-2 in the MAC. On the other side, the Bobcats move to 4-3 and 2-1 in the conference.
“There’s no way to take (a loss like this),” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “You get back to work. The only guy that wrestled with the intensity we expect tonight is Nick Smith. The rest of the guys need to find their inner fire and intensity and bring it to the next match.”
Kevin Fanta got NIU on the board early with a 5-2 decision against Ohio’s Kagan Squire. After taking a 2-1 lead after the first period, Fanta took control of the match in the second period with an escape and takedown combo, then cruised to victory through the third.
The Bobcats, though, struck back quickly when Andrew Romanchik pinned Rob Jillard in the first period at 149, putting Ohio up 6-3. NIU would fall further behind when Spartak Chino defeated Andrew Morse by a 9-3 decision.
Things went from bad to worse for Northern when Dan Burk suffered a first period pin at the hands of Harrison Hightower to put Ohio ahead 15-3. The Bobcats added to that lead before halftime when Cody Walters outdueled Matt Mougin in a tough 5-2 decision.
Coming out of the break, NIU’s hopes of a comeback were dashed when Bryan Loughlin was pinned by 2012 NCAA qualifier Ryan Garringer despite Loughlin’s early takedown.
Ohio pushed their lead to 32-3 with a pair of major decisions. At 197, Phil Wellington got a 13-5 win over Arber Bebo, while Jared Torrence lost a 10-1 major against 2012 All-American and 15th-ranked Jeremy Johnson.
The Huskies closed the gap in the remaining two matches, starting with Derek Elmore’s forfeit win at 125. Nick Smith closed the night for Northern with a 9-1 major decision against Garret Garness at 133.
“You get back on the mat,” Ludwig said. “Tomorrow’s a new day. Get back to work. You improve. That’s what you do.”
The Huskies continue their homestand next Friday, Jan. 18, when they take on the No. 9 Central Michigan Chippewas at 7 p.m. inside the Convocation Center.