MAC Title for Austin Eicher Highlights Historic Day for NIU Wrestling

By NIU Athletics

YPSILANTI, Mich. — The Northern Illinois University wrestling program had one of its best days in a long time on Sunday at the 2016 Mid-American Conference Championships, with Austin Eicher winning an individual MAC title at 133 pounds and three other Huskies securing automatic berths to the NCAA Championships in two weeks at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Posting an 8-1 combined record with five wrestlers competing on Sunday, the Huskies launched up the team standings to finish this year’s MAC Championships in sixth place with 65 team points, the most by NIU since scoring 73 points in 2004. The Missouri Tigers were crowned MAC team champions for the fourth consecutive season after posting 127.5 points.

Eicher (Fenton, Mich./Hartland) earned his MAC championship — the first by an NIU wrestler since Brad Dieckhaus in 2011 — by taking down Corey Keener from Central Michigan in sudden victory to win by 3-1 decision. The redshirt freshman, who originally entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed among nine wrestlers in the MAC at 133, scored with riding time to force overtime against Keener, the No. 4 seed.

Joining Eicher in New York City when the NCAA Championships start on March 17 will be a trio of other Huskies: Steve Bleise (Chelsea, Mich./Chelsea) at 141 pounds, Andrew Morse (Alto, Mich./Lowell) at 157 and Shawn Scott (Holly, Mich./Holly) at 197. All three won their consolation brackets on Sunday to take third place in the conference in their respective weight classes.

NIU wrestling head coach Ryan Ludwig praised the competitive spirit all of the five Huskies wrestling on Sunday showed after they fought until the very end in each match, proven by NIU’s 4-0 record in sudden victory matches.

“First off, I’m super proud of Austin Eicher for bringing home the MAC title. Obviously that is every wrestler’s goal coming into these tournaments, and he was able to achieve it,” Ludwig said. “I’m also extremely proud of the efforts of our three other NCAA qualifiers, Steve, Andrew and Shawn, who each showed great desire today by executing in matches, as well as Trace Engelkes, who finished with a win to claim fifth and boost his chances of getting an at-large bid.”

This year marks the first time since 2007 that the NIU wrestling program will send at least four Huskies to nationals. At-large bids to NCAAs will also be announced in a few days, giving hope to other NIU wrestlers, specifically MAC fifth-place winner at 174 pounds Trace Engelkes (Winnebago, Ill./Winnebago), of advancing to the big show.

For updates and information leading up to the NCAA Championships, be sure to follow @NIUWrestling on Twitter.

Full NIU results from the 2016 MAC Championships

Alijah Jeffery, 125 pounds, 2 points
No. 2 Barlow McGhee (Mizzou) maj. dec. No. 7 Jeffery (NIU), 10-2
No. 7 Jeffery (NIU) tech. fall No. 8 Armando Torres (EMU), 15-0 — 4:36
No. 3 Brent Fleetwood (CMU) dec. No. 7 Jeffery (NIU), 3-0

Austin Eicher, 133 pounds, MAC Champion, 18 points
No. 6 Eicher (NIU) pins No. 3 Cameron Kelly (Ohio), 5:21
No. 6 Eicher (NIU) injury default over No. 7 Shayne Wireman (EMU), 2:09
No. 6 Eicher (NIU) dec. No. 4 Corey Keener (CMU), 3-1 (SV)

Steve Bleise, 141 pounds, 3rd place, 12.5 points
No. 3 Bleise (NIU) maj. dec. No. 6 Anthony Tutolo (KSU), 13-2
No. 2 Chris Mecate (ODU) dec. No. 3 Bleise (NIU), 8-5
No. 3 Bleise (NIU) dec. No. 5 Trevor Jauch (UNI), 10-5
No. 3 Bleise (NIU) maj. dec. No. 4 Zach Horan (CMU), 13-4

Gabe Morse, 149 pounds
No. 3 Alexander Richarsdon (ODU) dec. No. 6 G. Morse (NIU), 4-2
No. 7 Colt Cotton (Buffalo) dec. No. 6 G. Morse (NIU), 3-2

Andrew Morse, 157 pounds, 3rd place, 13.5 points
No. 3 Bryce Steiert (UNI) maj. dec. No. 6 A. Morse (NIU), 11-0
No. 6 A. Morse (NIU) maj. dec. No. 8 Alex Smythe (Buffalo), 11-1
No. 6 A. Morse (NIU) medical forfeit over No. 1 Ian Miller (KSU)
No. 6 A. Morse (NIU) dec. No. 2 Luke Smith (CMU), 7-5 (SV)

Shaun’Qae McMurtry, 165 pounds, .5 points
No. 2 Cooper Moore (UNI) dec. No. 7 McMurtry (NIU), 13-6
No. 7 McMurtry (NIU) dec. No. 8 Rrok Ndokaj (Buffalo), 8-6
No. 3 Austin Reese (Ohio) maj. dec. No. 7 McMurtry (NIU), 11-1

Trace Engelkes, 174 pounds, 5th place, 8 points
No. 4 Engelkes (NIU) dec. No. 5 Jacob Davis (EMU), 4-0
No. 1 Michael Ottinger (CMU) dec. No. 4 Engelkes (NIU), 5-4
No. 6 Jairod James (KSU) dec. No. 4 Engelkes (NIU), 11-4
No. 4 Engelkes (NIU) maj. dec. No. 5 Jacob Davis (EMU), 9-1

Quinton Rosser, 184 pounds
No. 8 Joe Ariola (Buffalo) dec. No. 9 Rosser (NIU), 8-4
No. 7 Drew Foster (UNI) dec. No. 9 Rosser (NIU), 7-2

Shawn Scott, 197 pounds, 3rd place, 10.5 points
No. 5 Anthony Abro (EMU) dec. No. 4 Scott (NIU), 4-3
No. 4 Scott (NIU) dec. No. 8 Cody Krumweide (UNI), 5-2
No. 4 Scott (NIU) dec. No. 2 Kyle Conel (KSU), 3-1 (SV)
No. 4 Scott (NIU) dec. No. 5 Anthony Abro (EMU), 3-1 (SV)

Arthur Bunce, 285 pounds
No. 3 Jake Gunning (Buffalo) pins No. 6 Bunce, 6:30
No. 2 Gage Hutchison (EMU) dec. No. 6 Bunce, 4-1

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Written by Mike Bare

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