Northern Illinois Prepares for 2013 MAC Championships

GO HUSKIES Junior Nick Smith can clinch his first career NCAA tournament berth with at least a third place finish at 133 pounds
GO HUSKIES
Junior Nick Smith can clinch his first career NCAA tournament berth with at least a third place finish at 133 pounds
GO HUSKIES

March 8, 2013

MAC Championships Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Brackets/Schedule

DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois wrestling team opens their postseason Sunday with the 2013 Mid-American Conference Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.
 
The action starts at 9 a.m. CT with the first rounds, while championship matches will begin at 4 p.m. CT inside UB’s Alumni Arena.
 
We are eager as a team to get out to Buffalo and compete,” said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. “The guys have been training smart and are fired up to compete. The MAC tournament should prove to be one of the most competitive and elite conference championships in the country.”
 
“Our expectations as a team are positive in that we know that, when all of our individuals are firing, good things will happen. I believe we are coming together at the right time and that our guys know the game plans they want to execute”
 
The Huskies enter the postseason with plenty of momentum after winning their final three duals of the season. They capped off their regular season with a pair of wins in Cleveland, Ohio, Feb. 24, topping Gardner-Webb and Cleveland State in convincing fashion. Nick Smith, Rob Jillard, Andrew Morse and Parker Settecase each won their two matches on the day for NIU.
 
Entering the tournament, two Huskies – Smith and Kevin Fanta – have top four seeds in their respective weight classes. Fanta will be the third seed at 141 pounds and faces Eastern Michigan’s Seth Schaner in the opener, while Smith is fourth at 133 and battles Kent State’s Mackenzie McGuire in the first round.
 
There will also be plenty of tough draws in the first round for the Huskies. Derek Elmore will get the honor of facing the NCAA’s top-ranked 125-pounder with a first round matchup against Missouri’s Alan Waters. Additionally, Bryan Loughlin will face No. 2 Ben Bennett from Central Michigan at 184.
 
In the other first round matchups, Rob Jillard duels Ohio’s Andrew Romanchik at 149, Morse takes on EMU’s Aaron Sulzer at 157 and Sam Bennett goes against Missouri’s Zach Toal at 165. Also, Matt Mougin battles Ohio’s Cody Rogers at 174, Parker Settecase goes against Nick Whitenburg of EMU at 197 and Jared Torrence faces Northern Iowa’s Blayne Beale at heavyweight.
 
In addition to conference championships, NCAA automatic berths will also be on the line in the tournament. The 174 pound weight class will send their top five to Des Moines, while 125 and 184 each send four to nationals. Three qualifiers each will come from 133, 157, 197 and 285, along with two from 149 and 165. The final weight class, 141, will only send the tournament champion.
 
Fans can follow along with the action on MAC-Sports.com with live streaming and with live updates on Twitter @MACWrestResults.
 
PROJECTED LINEUP
125: Derek Elmore
133: Nick Smith
141: Kevin Fanta
149: Rob Jillard
157: Andrew Morse
165: Sam Bennett
174: Matt Mougin
184: Bryan Loughlin
197: Parker Settecase
285: Jared Torrence
 
PAW PRINTS
History At The Mac Championships
NIU returns to the MAC Championships this season looking to improve on last season’s fifth place finish and 41 points - only one-half point behind fourth place Ohio. The Huskies will also be looking to register their 42nd MAC individual champion, with the last one coming in 2011 with Brad Dieckhaus at 184 pounds. As a team, the last and only MAC championship for Northern came in 1985, when the Huskies dominated the field with 89 points, topping second place Miami (Ohio) by 40.
 
Winning Ways
By finishing the year with a 10-8 record, the Huskies earned double-digit dual wins for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they notched 11 victories. Since moving to the Division I ranks in 1969, NIU has recorded 14 seasons of 10 dual wins or more. The record for most dual wins in a season is 15, which occurred in 1988-89 and 2002-03.
 
No Flash In The Pan
Junior Nick Smith has made quite a name for himself in his nearly three seasons on the mat. After his two wins in the regular season finale, the Ida, Mich., native has compiled a 46-20 record - an incredible 26 wins over .500. The next closest Huskie in wins over .500 (minimum two seasons) is Kevin Fanta with nine.
 
Back to Form
After taking two losses to open February, Kevin Fanta closed the month with a big second period pin against Gardner-Webb’s Davante Andujar. Heading into the conference tournament, the 2012 NCAA qualifier boasts a 7-4 record on the year with two pins and a major decision.
 
Jillard’s Late-Season Run
Rob Jillard seems to be hitting a hot streak at the right time, as he has won five of his last six matches heading into the MAC Championships. In those five wins, the junior has recorded two pins and outscored his opponents 25-7 in the other three matches at 149 pounds.
 
Up Next...
Pending the results of the MAC Championships, the Huskies will send representatives to the 2013 NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, March 21-23. The tournament begins Thursday and runs through Saturday night.