Dec. 1, 2011
DeKALB - The Northern Illinois Huskie wrestling team pushed Purdue to the limit Thursday night, but came just short of pulling the upset as the Boilermakers emerged with a 19-15 win.
The loss drops NIU to 3-3 on the season, while Purdue improved to 3-4.
"(This loss) was the most agonizing because it is the freshest," said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. "They all hurt, but everyone knows that. The only way to react from a tough loss like that is to pull your bootstraps up and work twice as hard. That's exactly what we are going to do."
Trailing 16-9 with three matches to go, the Huskies began a valiant comeback effort with the 184 pound match. In his first home match of 2011-12, senior Brad Dieckhaus powered past Braden Atwood with a 6-1 decision to get Northern within four.
Fellow senior Mike Lukowski kept the Boilermakers on their heels at 197 when, in the first period, he registered a takedown and nearly got a pin. However, the clock ran out before the pin could be registered. The East Dundee, Ill., native used that early lead to coast to a 7-2 win and force a winner-take-all match at heavyweight.
The comeback, though, fell just short. Facing redshirt senior Roger Vukobratovich, Jared Torrence neutralized the Boilermaker attacks in what turned into a war of attrition. Tied 1-1 after three periods, Torrence gave up an escape in the second overtime, then got one of his own in the third. Yet, Vukobratovich's takedown with 10 seconds remaining in the third overtime proved to be the deciding factor in a 4-3 triple-overtime thriller.
"I thought we showed a lot of fight tonight in a lot of crucial positions," Ludwig said. "Outstanding leadership from our seniors in Brad and Mike to turn the tide back in our favor. That was outstanding work by both of those guys and I am very proud of them."
started things off with a bang at 125, registering a pin of Purdue's Luke Schroeder midway through the second period to give NIU an early 6-0 lead. After the Boilermakers cut that lead in half with a decision at 133, Kevin Fanta
extended the Huskie lead back to six points with a 7-3 decision of Jake Fleckenstein in the 141 match.
Purdue, though, would tie things up going into the intermission with two decisions. Tyler Argue took Nick Lawrence to overtime in a tightly-contested match at 149 before falling in the extra session, 3-1. The momentum continued into 157, where Tommy Churchard took a 6-0 decision against Sam Bennett.
Purdue's run of wins carried over into the 165 match, where Kyle Mosier scored an important major decision against Dan Burk, 10-0. Drake Stein made it four in a row for the Boilermakers when he earned a 9-3 win against Caleb Busson before the Huskie comeback began.
"I think we are on the cusp of something special here," Ludwig said. "The guys are believing in what we are doing. If we can get some of these things ironed out, which I think we can do, then we're looking for a big second half of the year."
NIU will have a long break before their next matches of the season, which come on Dec. 21 when MAC rival Kent State, Cleveland State and Cumberland come to DeKalb. The quadrangular begins at 11 a.m. with the Huskies against the Golden Flashes and the Vikings facing the Bulldogs.
Purdue 19, Northern Illinois 15
125: Nick Smith (NIU) fall Luke Schroeder (Purdue), 4:22
133: Matt Fields (Purdue) dec. Rob Jillard (NIU), 9-2
141: Kevin Fanta (NIU) dec. Jake Fleckenstein (Purdue), 7-3
149: Nick Lawrence (Purdue) dec. Tyler Argue (NIU), 3-1 (OT)
157: Tommy Churchard (Purdue) dec. Sam Bennett (NIU), 6-0
165: Kyle Mosier (Purdue) maj. dec. Dan Burk (NIU), 10-0
174: Drake Stein (Purdue) dec. Caleb Busson (NIU), 9-3
184: Brad Dieckhaus (NIU) dec. Braden Atwood (Purdue), 6-1
197: Mike Lukowski (NIU) dec. Justin Dinius (Purdue), 7-2
285: Roger Vukobratovich (Purdue) dec. Jared Torrence (NIU), 3-1 (3OT)