Huskies win hard-fought home dual over Eastern Michigan

By Northern Illinois University Athletics

DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois University wrestling team defeated Eastern Michigan after a hard-fought dual on Friday night at Victor E. Court in DeKalb, Ill.

The Huskies (5-4, 1-3 MAC) won their first Mid-American Conference dual with a 22-14 victory over the Eagles (5-4, 1-3 MAC) after recording wins in six of the 10 weight classes.

The meet opened at 157-pounds with Caden McWhirter (Prattville, Ala./Prattville) and Eastern Michigan’s Zac Carson. McWhirter started off strong with an early takedown and four nearfall points; however, Carson came back to tie the score at the end of the second period. After a tough bout, Carson had a late takedown to secure the win, 12-8.

The Huskies earned their first victory at 174-pounds, when Trace Engelkes (Winnebago, Ill./Winnebago) shut out his opponent, 5-0. Engelkes led the first period, 2-0, and was awarded stalling points on two separate occasions before capping off the dual with riding time for the win. Engelkes improves to 11-2 on the season.

Following suit, Bryce Gorman (Manhattan, Ill./Lincoln-Way Central) picked up another win for the Huskies in a narrow 4-3 decision. With the score tied 3-3 at the end of the second period, Gorman got an escape and his hand was raised in victory. At 197-pounds, No. 9 Shawn Scott (Holly, Mich./Holly) survived a low-scoring battle, coming out on top in a 2-0 decision.

Northern Illinois led 9-6 going into intermission.

Perhaps the most exciting dual of the night came at 125-pounds with Kirk Johansen (Glendale Heights, Ill./Glenbard North) and No. 18 Noah Gosner. Johansen took the early lead with a takedown and two nearfall points. The score was 4-3 and with the help of the crowd, Johansen took control and pinned his nationally-ranked opponent in 3 minutes and 31 seconds. That is Johansen’s first fall of the season and third in his career as a Huskie.

Head wrestling coach Ryan Ludwig was impressed with how Johansen stepped up and was able to focus on getting points on the board for the team.

“That was a huge win for Johansen,” said Ludwig. “We needed someone to step up and he answered the call. Right before the match, I went up and told him to believe in his attacks and do what he does and trust his technique and that’s exactly what he did. He went out with a lot of fight, a lot of gas, and he got the job done for us in a big way.”

At 133, Alijah Jeffery (Marion, Iowa/Linn-Mar) held a steady lead throughout his dual against the Eagles’ Sa’Derian Perry and notched a win with a major decision, 11-2. No. 13 Steve Bleise (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) capped off the night with a 6-3 win over Nick Barber, contributing three more team points for the Huskies.

Coach Ludwig was pleased with tonight’s win but is already looking ahead to Sunday’s dual against the Big Ten’s Illinois.

“We need to convert almost every time,” said Ludwig. “We need to make sure we have the energy to go out and get to our attacks first. We did a much better job at that tonight and that’s why we got the results that we did.”

The Huskies will head to Champaign, Ill. on Sunday, Jan. 22 to take on the Fighting Illini at Huff Hall starting at 1 p.m. You can follow the Huskies at or get up-to-date results from both or @NIUWrestling on Twitter.

NIU 22, EMU 14
125: Kirk Johansen (NIU) fall No. 18 Noah Gonser (EMU) 3:31
133: Alijah Jeffery (NIU) maj. dec. Sa’Derian Perry (EMU) 11-2
141: Kyle Springer (EMU) maj. dec. Angel Velasquez (NIU) 18-6
149: Steve Bleise (NIU) dec. Nick Barber (EMU) 6-3
157: Zachary Carson (EMU) dec. Caden McWhirter (NIU) 12-8
165: Devan Marry (EMU) dec. Shaun’Qae McMurtry (NIU) 7-5
174: Trace Engelkes (NIU) dec. Jacob Davis (EMU) 5-1
184: Bryce Gorman (NIU) dec. Kayne MacCallum (EMU) 4-3
197: Shawn Scott (NIU) dec. Derek Hillman (EMU) 2-0
285: Gage Hutchinson (NIU) maj. dec. Caleb Gossett (NIU) 14-2

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Written by Mike Bare

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