2008-09 MEN'S TENNIS WRAP-UP
When head coach Pawel Gajdzik initially addressed his team heading into his first season at the helm of the Northern Illinois men's tennis program, he spoke about a "season of firsts," and setting team goals that had fallen short in the recent past.
As many successful teams can attest to, there's no substitute for experience, even if it comes through early on-the-job training. Gajdzik brought in five newcomers for the 2008-09 season including two key freshmen (Jurica Grubisic and Pawel Poziomski) that didn't begin their eligibility at NIU until January.
Those two players, along with junior Javier Bernabe, all ended the season as All-Mid-American Conference performers. Grubisic was named to the first-team, while Poziomski and Bernabe each chalked up second-team honors. Poziomski, who was elevated to the top singles position at the tail end of the regular-season, was tabbed the MAC Newcomer of the Year. Bernabe was also named to the Academic All-MAC squad.
After dropping three-consecutive dual matches versus Big Ten Conference opponents to begin the spring season, the Huskies answered with three-straight wins, including two over in-state non-conference foes. NIU topped Chicago State (7-0) in its MAC opener, before falling in a 7-0 decision at eventual MAC champion Western Michigan on April 5.
After suffering a 7-0 loss at Toledo on April 11, the Huskies ended the regular-season winning four-straight dual matches, including an historic 4-3 win at Ball State on April 18. It marked the Huskies' first regular-season win over the Cardinals since the 1974 season.
Picked fifth in the preseason poll, NIU finished the regular-season in a three-way tie for second-place, alongside both Ball State and Toledo. The Rockets earned the No. 2 seed due to its 7-0 win over NIU on April 11, and the Huskies' 4-3 win over Ball State moved NIU ahead of the fourth-seeded Cardinals for the third seed.
NIU posted a 4-1 win over Chicago State in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals at Buffalo, N.Y., advancing to the semifinals, where the Huskies took on Toledo. The Huskies secured wins at both the No. 2 and sixth singles positions, but dropped a 4-2 decision, eliminating them from competition. NIU finished its season with a 9-10 (3-2 MAC) record.
The Huskies are slated to return four starters next season, including their top-two singles players.
People like numbers. They're so factual, so direct, you just can't argue with them. There's a certain appeal to the objectivity of statistics. VanDeLaySports.com knows that, and they've put together a list of Mid-American Conference football "By the Numbers," which includes an interesting note on Chandler Harnish.
GRANT ADDS FOUR MORE
Wrestling coach Dave Grant added four more recruits to his 2009-10 stable today. The group now includes junior national champion Zach Neibert, Illinois champion Curtis Blaydes, and Iowa champion Matt Mougin. All together, Grant has brought in seven recruits for the upcoming season. The new cast members will compliment an seemingly paradoxical group of young wrestlers with tons of Division I experience. Grant started all freshmen and sophomores in his line-up last year, and these guys are on the way up. Personally, I'm extremelely excited to see how this team develops over the next year or two.
OUELLETTE & GOODING HIT ACADEMIC RBI
Congrats to Bailey Ouellette and Emily Gooding for their selection to the Academic All-MAC Softball Team. Oullette carries a 3.56 GPA in pyschology, and Gooding holds a 3.71 in kinesiology-preventive and rehabilitation exercise science (I can't even say that, yet study it). Check the full story here.