By NIU Athletics
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – A pair of Huskie wrestlers placed at the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships after the final day of competition at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on Monday.
“The guys wrestled hard and we had some nice individual performances,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “We have a lot to build on and a lot to learn from. Freshmen Izzak and Gage competed with maturity to secure podium finishes.”
Gage Braun (197) and Izzak Olejnik (165) placed fifth and eighth, respectively, after battling their way through Monday’s bouts. Both wrestlers opened the round of 12 with victories.
Down 5-4 late in the third period, Olejnik recorded a reversal with 30 seconds left to defeat Jake Keating of Virginia, 6-5. However, he suffered a 7-4 decision to Phillip Conigliaro of Harvard in his next match before getting pinned in the first period in the seventh-place match by North Carolina’s Kennedy Monday.
Braun was aggressive early in his first match of the day. The Huskie redshirt freshman recorded a first period takedown over his opponent, Brandon Whitman of North Carolina. Braun earned a 6-5 decision to stay alive in the tournament.
He won his next match 7-5 over Army’s Alexander Hopkins to continue to advance through the tournament. However, Braun fell, 18-5, to Princeton’s Pat Brucki, putting him into the fifth-place match. A medical forfeit by Minnesota’s Hunter Ritter allowed Braun to take fifth place at 197.
Bryce West (125) and McCoy Kent (149) also competed Monday, but suffered defeats in their bouts.
NIU finished in 13th place with 44 points, while Iowa won the event with 196.5.
The Huskies return to action Sunday, Jan. 5 when NIU welcomes Central Michigan to Victor E. Court. The match begins at 2 p.m. and will be shown on ESPN+.
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