- Northern Illinois University vs. Kent State University / DeKalb,
IL / Mid-American Conference Action / Sunday / January 18, 2004/ Attendance:
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 25, KENT STATE 12 NIU-KSU
125-Pounds Drew Opfer (KSU) dec. Gralan Early (NIU), 10-9
133-Pounds Sam Hiatt (NIU) dec. Jared Opfer (KSU), 6-4 3-3
141-Pounds Andy Hiatt (NIU) major dec. Nate Daugherty (KSU),
149-Pounds Josh Wooton (NIU) dec. Jason Bake (KSU), 8-6 10-3
157-Pounds Mike Tolar (KSU) dec. Joe Henning (NIU), 10-5
165-Pounds Alex Nelson (NIU) dec. Nick Brenner (KSU), 9-2
174-Pounds George Kirgan (NIU) pinned A. Ramadani (KSU),
184-Pounds Ben Heizer (NIU) dec. Alex Camargo (KSU), 7-3
197-Pounds Greg Reardon (NIU) dec. Nick Hiller (KSU), 4-2
Heavyweight Willie Leonard (KSU) pinned Joe Sapp (NIU), 6:55
- Last season, the Northern Illinois University wrestling program
was forced to share the Mid-American Conference regular season title
with Central Michigan because of an early-season loss to Kent State.
Do you think that defeat was on the minds of the Huskie grapplers
as they opened the MAC season against those same Golden Flashes?
The Huskies avenged last season's loss in a big way, defeating KSU
25-12 in front of 246 fans at the Convocation Center on Sunday (Nov.
During the 13-point win, the Huskies won 7-of-10 matches including
another impressive pin by George Kirgan to put the dual competition
out of reach.
Prior to securing his fifth pin of the season, Kirgan, a native
of Granite City, IL, had to scramble early on after being taken
down by Kent State's Ardian Ramadani. After escaping, Kirgan quickly
flipped Ramadani and pinned the freshman just 1:41 into the match.
"George did a great job getting us six team points," head
coach Dave Grant said. "He was tough and aggressive. Before
the match, we told our guys that we wanted them to come out and
wrestle aggressively. They did that."
In addition to Kirgan's pin, 10th-ranked Sam Hiatt, a native of
DeKalb, earned an impressive decision over Jared Opfer, a former
NCAA qualifier, to improve to 15-4.
Trailing 3-0 in the team standings after freshman Gralan Early came
up short (10-9) to Drew Opfer, Hiatt got the Huskies on the board
with a 6-4 decision over Jared Opfer at 133 pounds. Facing the MAC's
fourth-ranked 133-pound wrestler, Hiatt got a takedown midway through
the opening period to gain a 2-0 lead. While an escape by Opfer
made it 2-1 at the end of the first, Hiatt controlled the opening
three minutes in building the one-point lead.
After starting the period down, Hiatt quickly escaped to make it
3-1 and took down Opfer for the second time, this one with just
11 seconds remaining, to gain a 5-1 lead after two periods.
Opfer escaped at the start of the third period to make it 5-2 and
took down Hiatt late to make it 5-4, but the junior escaped as the
clock expired for the 6-4 win.
Hiatt's younger brother, Andy Hiatt, continues his tear, as he stopped
Kent State senior Nate Daugherty by a 14-5 major decision. Just
a freshman, Hiatt built a 4-1 first-period lead after a pair of
takedowns and upped his lead to 5-1 with an escape at the start
of the second period. Another takedown made the lead 7-1, before
Daugherty escaped to narrow the margin to 7-2. After the senior
was called for a pair of stalling violations making it 9-2, Hiatt
began looking for a major-decision win and got it with two more
takedowns in the final period.
Josh Wooton made it three-in-a-row for Northern Illinois as he topped
Jason Bake 8-6. Trailing 2-1 after the opening period, Wooton began
the second frame with a reversal to grab his first lead. Bake regained
the advantage, however, as he escaped and took down Wooton for the
second time. An escape by Bake at the start of the third period
gave him a 6-4 lead, but a stalling call against the Kent State
wrestler and another takedown by Wooton gave the sophomore a 7-6
Alex Nelson gave NIU another win at 165 pounds as he handled Nick
Brenner by a 9-2 margin. Leading 2-0 after one period, Nelson increased
his lead to 5-0 with an escape and takedown in the second. After
Brenner escaped to start the third period, Nelson came through with
his third takedown to make it 7-1. Brenner did manage one final
escape to score his second point, while a stalling point against
Brenner and riding time gave Nelson the 9-2 win.
Ben Heizer got NIU back on the board as the senior All-American
earned a hard-fought 7-3 win over Alex Camargo at 184 pounds. In
improving to 18-1 on the year, the nation's No. 2 ranked wrestler
got the win thanks to patient wrestling. Tied 3-3 after each wrestler
enjoyed a takedown and escape in the first period, Heizer grabbed
the lead for good in the second period with an early escape. Camargo
picked neutral to start the third period and Heizer made him pay
with a late takedown to make it 6-3. Heizer got his final point
via riding time.
"Camargo is a tough guy for Ben to wrestle," Grant said.
"He backs out a lot and isn't very aggressive. Ben was still
able to take him down twice and get a good win. Camargo is the No.
2 184-pounder in the MAC. He's a good wrestler, so this is a good
win for Ben."
The final Huskie triumph came from Greg Reardon as he improved to
4-4 on the year. Scoreless through one period, Reardon started on
bottom and quickly made it 2-0 after KSU's Nick Hiller was called
for stalling and Reardon escaped shortly thereafter. Hiller made
it 2-1 with an escape to begin the third period, but Reardon claimed
a takedown with 1:04 remaining to put the match out of reach.
"You always want to start out the conference season with a
win," Grant said. "We got that accomplished. I was happy
with the way we wrestled. Even the guys who didn't win, could be
happy with their efforts as they walked off the mat. That's what
we look for as coaches, a consistent and solid effort."
With the win, Northern Illinois improves to 7-3, 1-0 in the MAC,
while Kent State drops to 2-10, 1-2 in Mid-American Conference action.