Careers of Smith and Jillard end on the national stage
Ryan Ludwig enters his fourth season as the head coach of the Huskie wrestling program in 2014-15.
Ludwig guided the Huskies to a 7-11 dual record in 2013-14. In addition, he also helped NIU make its 43rd-straight appearance at the NCAA Championships, as Nick Smith (133) and Rob Jillard (149) both advanced to Oklahoma City. At the MAC Championships, the Huskies landed five wrestlers on the podium, including a third-place finish from Shawn Scott at 197 pounds.
In 2012-13, Ludwig helped guide the Huskies to a 10-8 dual record, marking the first time since 2005-06 that the team notched double-digit dual wins in a single season. NIU also notched their 500th dual win in program history during the year, along with knocking off a Big Ten opponent (Indiana) for the first time sinceDec. 3, 2009. The Huskies sent Matt Mougin to the NCAA Championships. Wrestling in his home state, Mougin came out as one of the tournament's big surprises by advancing to the final 12.
In his first season at the helm, Ludwig's Huskies recorded eight dual wins in 2011-12 - the most for the program since the 2007-08 campaign. The team also extended their streak of NCAA tournament appearances to 41 years when senior Brad Dieckhaus and redshirt sophomore Kevin Fanta both earned bids to St. Louis. Off the mat, the team won the men's Victors Cup competition for the second consecutive season for academic excellence, community service, and competitive achievement.
Ludwig came to NIU in 2005, spending his first six seasons on Dave Grant's staff, serving as associate head coach for the last two years. He has played a key role in training 15 NCAA qualifiers, seven Mid-American Conference champions, most recently 2011 MAC Champion Brad Dieckhaus at 184 pounds, and one Midlands Tournament champion.
A native of Chelsea, Mich., Ludwig has been a driving force in bringing top talent to NIU. Year in and year out, Northern Illinois' recruiting classes have been ranked among the best in the nation. The 2007 recruiting class was rated as high as 20th nationally, while the 2008 class boasted an outstanding blend of in-state and national talent featuring six high school All-Americans, 10 state champions and one Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner. His initial recruiting effort brought athletes with outstanding credentials to DeKalb as well. The 2006 recruiting class included four high school All-Americans. In 2007, the newcomers recruited by the coaching staff combined for six state titles, and included four All-Americans.
Ludwig came to Northern Illinois after two seasons as an assistant at Minnesota State University-Mankato. While coaching the Mavericks, Ludwig helped guide the team to a third-place finish in the NCAA Division II Championships. He also helped produce and train eight All-Americans at MSU-Mankato. Prior to his work with the Mavericks, Ludwig served as an assistant wrestling coach for his alma mater, the University of Findlay, where he coached seven All-Americans and a national champion in 2002-03.
As a wrestler, Ludwig was a three-time NAIA All-American and a national finalist at 157 pounds. Elected a captain by his teammates, he was also voted Most Valuable Wrestler when the Roughnecks were NAIA national runners-up in 1999. Ludwig ranks third on Findlay's all-time win list with over 100 career victories. In high school, Ludwig was a Michigan state champion at 142 pounds in 1995.
Ludwig earned a bachelor of arts degree in 2000 from Findlay as a double major in psychology and criminal justice.