Dec. 27, 2012
Midlands Championships Notes | Midlands Championships Official Webpage
DEKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois wrestling team brings 2012 to a close this weekend when they take part in the 50th annual Midlands Championships in Evanston, Ill.
The tournament starts Saturday at 9:30 a.m. with the first round of action. Competition continues Sunday at noon inside Welsh-Ryan Arena with finals slated to start at 7 p.m.
"Midlands tradition is among the best in the NCAA and the team is always fired up to compete," said NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig. "Midlands brings out the toughest performers in the country year in and year out and this year is no exception. The 50th anniversary has certainly generated a lot of excitement."
NIU steps outside of dual action after dropping their Mid-American Conference opener on Dec. 18 to Kent State, 29-9. Despite getting out to an early 6-4 lead on the Golden Flashes, KSU used six consecutive wins to snatch the win from the Huskies. Northern’s three wins came courtesy of Nick Smith, Tyler Argue and Jared Torrence.
The Huskies will face plenty of top-flight competition in Evanston this weekend, though, with 32 of the 77 NCAA Division I teams expected to be in action. Of that list, 15 are presently in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll Top 25, including top 10 teams Illinois, Central Michigan and Oregon State.
NIU will also see plenty of familiar faces in the field, as MAC rivals Buffalo, CMU, Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Northern Iowa dot the field, along with 2012-13 non-conference opponents Indiana, Purdue, Michigan State and host Northwestern also competing.
Individually, the competition will feature several top 20-ranked wrestlers. Among that large contingent are top-ranked individuals Kendric Maple (141 pounds) of Oklahoma and Dustin Kilgore (197) of Kent State.
Fans can follow along with the action online at NUSports.com.
125: Derek Elmore
133: Nick Smith
141: Kevin Fanta, Tyler Argue
149: Rob Jillard, Shawn Fayette
157: Andrew Morse
165: Sam Bennet, Dan Burk
174: Matt Mougin
184: Bryan Loughlin
285: Jared Torrence
History at Midlands
This year’s Midlands Championships will mark the 27th time and the 23rd consecutive year that the Huskies have competed at the Northwestern-hosted meet (since 1969). In fact, NIU has made quite a mark on the tournament. At the inaugural tournament in 1963, Roy Conrad - who was competing with the Irving Park YMCA - won the 177-pound title. Former Huskie Tristan DeShazer won the prestigious Gorriaran Memorial Trophy in 2010 for recording the fastest pin of the tournament.
A Stacked Field
NIU will be one of 32 Division I programs competing in the prestigious Midlands Championships. Of those programs, 15 are ranked in the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, including top 10 teams Illinois, Central Michigan and Oregon State. The field also includes 14 of the top 25 finishers at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
One Big Win
One of the bright spots that emerged from NIU’s 29-9 defeat against Kent State Dec. 18 was at heavyweight, where NIU’s Jared Torrence defeated 2012 NCAA Championships qualifier Keith Witt by a 2-1 decision. The win adds another positive to Torrence’s season that also includes top four finishes at two open tournaments.
A Pin-teresting Stat
The Huskies have been adept at sticking their opponents so far this year, as the team has already combined for 28 pins in 2012-13. Last year, NIU tallied 54 pins on the year and is on pace for a whopping 103 pins this season. Leading the way for NIU are Derek Elmore (10 pins) and Matt Mougin (5), while four other Huskies - Caleb Busson, Ethan Davis, Shawn Fayette and Rob Jillard - have accounted for two each.
Though just a month and a half into the season, six Huskies already have double-digit wins in 2012-13. Leading the way for this half dozen is Matt Mougin with 15 victories. Tied for second are Derek Elmore and Rob Jillard with 13 apiece. Braun Marquez also has 13 wins, while Tyler Argue rounds out the top five with 11.
The Huskies ring in the new year with a trip downstate to take on SIU Edwardsville and Appalachian State. The action starts at 2 p.m. in SIUE’s Vadalabene Center.