DEKALB – The Northern Illinois wrestling team dropped both of their dual matches Saturday in Victor E. Court, losing to No. 7 Missouri and Eastern Michigan.
With the losses, NIU falls to 7-7 overall and 0-5 in the MAC. Meanwhile, MU improves to 9-1 and 1-1 in conference and EMU moves to 7-10 overall and 1-2 in MAC play.
“We need work,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “We need to get back to working on bottom.”
NIU Loses Heartbreaker to Eastern Michigan, 22-17
The Huskies started the day on a sour note, dropping a hard-fought match to the Eastern Michigan Eagles.
“Again, we have to work off bottom,” Ludwig said. “We have to score and not get wrapped up in scramble situations. Absolutely cannot give up pins. That is non-negotiable and do our best to score bonus points where we can.”
EMU got on the board first when Alexander Calandrino defeated Nick Harrison by a 4-0 decision. Harrison, a redshirt freshman from Stillman Valley, Ill., was filling in with a spot start for Derek Elmore.
However, the Huskies responded with three consecutive wins to take a 10-3 lead through four matches. NIU took their first lead of the match behind Nick Smith’s 11-2 major decision at 133. They followed that up with Kevin Fanta’s 7-3 decision against Seth Schaner and Rob Jillard’s tight 4-2 win against Mike Shaw.
The Eagles would turn the tide of the match right before halftime, though, when Aaron Sulzer – a 2012 NCAA qualifier – pinned Huskie freshman Andrew Morse in the first period. The pin narrowed Northern’s advantage to 10-9 and closed the door on any chance of an NIU rout.
EMU regained the lead at 165 when Dan Burk fell by major decision to Jacob Davis. Yet, NIU moved back into the lead when Matt Mougin got a major of his own, beating Jacob Dorulla by a 10-2 margin to give the Huskies a 14-13 lead.
From there, NIU suffered two crushing losses that allowed Eastern to salt away the dual. Phillip Joseph earned a high-scoring 13-7 decision against Bryan Loughlin to put Northern behind 16-14. The backbreaker came at 197, when Nick Whitenburg scored a third period pin against Parker Settecase.
Jared Torrence closed the match with a 5-2 win against Chris Eggert at heavyweight. The win was Torrence’s 12th of the season.
NIU Loses to No. 7 Missouri, 39-3
The Huskies closed out the day against nationally-ranked Missouri, falling 39-3 to the Tigers.
“Absolutely, we can take positives,” Ludwig said. “(Kevin) Fanta had a dominating win at 141 over a very tough opponent. Secondly, you want to see a team like that before you head into conference tournaments, so you can study your matches a little bit and turn them around.”
The Tigers came out hot, racing to an early 9-0 lead. Third-ranked Alan Waters defeated Huskie Nick Harrison by a first period pin, while sixth-ranked Nathan McCormick topped Nick Smith in an 8-2 decision.
NIU, though, responded when Kevin Fanta outmuscled Nicholas Hucke at 141 in a 6-1 decision. The win was Fanta’s fifth straight and further solidified his NCAA resume heading into February.
However, Missouri took control of the match with a pair of major decisions to take a 17-3 lead going into the break. Rob Jillard fell at 149 to Drake Houdashelt in a 18-6 loss, while Andrew Morse lost by way of an 11-1 major against Kyle Bradley.
Things did not get any better for the Huskies in the second half, as the Tigers won all five upper weight matches. Sam Bennett lost to #14 Zach Toal at 165 in an 11-0 major decision, while Matt Mougin fell short of his upset bid in an 8-3 loss against #16 Todd Porter.
MU added consecutive pins at 184 and 197 to stretch their lead. Bryan Loughlin was pinned by #9Mike Larson late in their match. That was followed up by Parker Settecase getting topped by #11 Brent Haynes in the first period at 197.
Jared Torrence came just short of pulling off one of the nation’s most shocking upsets of the year. Facing top-ranked heavyweight Dom Bradley, Torrence was able to tie Bradley with less than a minute remaining in the match. However, he was unable to register a takedown and Bradley escaped with a 2-1 win courtesy of the riding time advantage.
The Huskies return to dual action Friday, Feb. 8, when they host #23 Northwestern on Senior Night. The match between NIU and NU starts at 7 p.m. in Victor E. Court.