YPSILANTI, Mich. – Three Northern Illinois University wrestlers defeated ranked opponents as the Huskies posted a 21-9 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday afternoon at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Mich.
In winning their first Mid-American Conference dual match of the season, the Huskies (6-6, 1-3) took seven of the 10 individual battles against the Eagles (7-6, 2-4 MAC) to pick up what was NIU wrestling’s first conference win away from home since beating Buffalo on Feb. 23, 2014.
Trace Engelkes (Winnebago, Ill./Winnebago), Shawn Scott (Holly, Mich./Holly) and Arthur Bunce (Munith, Mich./Dansville) were the Huskies that notched wins over Eagles ranked in the latest NCAA Coaches’ Panel poll. Engelkes downed #32 Jacob Davis by 7-2 decision at 174 pounds, #16 Scott defeated #20 Anthony Abro 6-1 at 197 pounds in the only ranked matchup of the afternoon, and Bunce stunned #28 Gage Hutchison with an impressive 3-1 heavyweight win.
NIU wrestling head coach Ryan Ludwig was proud of the way his team executed after a week of training that had the Huskies feeling confident heading on the road.
“It’s nice to see the fruits of our training. The guys had a good week of preparation, and it transitioned well,” Ludwig said. “Our lightweights set the tone. We battled through tough positions and that makes the difference in matches.”
As Ludwig pointed out, before three of NIU’s heavier wrestlers defeated marquee opponents, it was the Huskie lightweight who built a lead for the visitors. Alijah Jeffery (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Mar), Austin Eicher (Fenton, Mich./Hartland) and #15 Steve Bleise (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) each won by decision at 125, 133 and 141 pounds, respectively, to open the dual and give the Huskies a 9-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Sandwiched around another NIU win by Andrew Morse (Alto, Mich./Lowell), the Eagles battled back to make it 12-6 before Engelkes notched his first top-33 win of the season. Eastern Michigan then won at 184 pounds to put NIU’s advantage under threat, but Scott sealed the team dual victory for the Huskies with his third top-33 triumph of the 2015-16 college wrestling campaign via his win over Abro.
For NIU, five of the seven Huskie wins on Saturday came from Michigan natives as Eicher, Bleise, Morse, Scott and Bunce all won on their return to their home state.
The Huskies return home next weekend to host two ranked MAC opponents when Kent State and Missouri come to DeKalb for dual matchups. NIU will welcome the Golden Flashes on Friday at 7 p.m. before challenging the Tigers on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both duals will be held at Victor E. Court. Admission is FREE to all fans.
NIU 21, Eastern Michigan 9
125: Alijah Jeffery (NIU) dec. Armando Torres (EMU), 4-2
133: Austin Eicher (NIU) dec. Shane Wireman (EMU), 10-3
141: #15 Steve Bleise (NIU) dec. Kyle Springer (EMU), 5-4
149: #24 Nick Barber (EMU) dec. Gabe Morse (NIU), 8-3
157: Andrew Morse (NIU) dec. Devan Marry (EMU), 8-2
165: Dakota Juarez (EMU) dec. Shaun’Qae McMurtry (NIU), 10-3
174: Trace Engelkes (NIU) dec. #32 Jacob Davis (EMU), 7-2
184: Derek Hillman (EMU) dec. Quinton Rosser (NIU), 10-6
197: #16 Shawn Scott (NIU) dec. #20 Anthony Abro (EMU), 6-1
285: Arthur Bunce (NIU) dec. #28 Gage Hutchison (EMU), 3-1