Huskies to Close 2008 at 46th Midlands Championships
Dec. 28, 2008
DeKALB – The Northern Illinois wrestling team will test itself against some of the top programs and individuals in the country at the 46th Annual Midlands Championships, Monday and Tuesday in Evanston, Ill.
In addition to battling grapplers from Mid-American Conference foes Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, the Huskies will face wrestlers from three of the top-five programs in the nation: No. 1 Iowa, No. 2 Iowa State and No. 5 Missouri. “It’s a quality tournament, and it means a lot when it comes to national qualifying,” NIU Head Coach Dave Grant said.
NIU is sending 14 wrestlers to Midlands, including 12 that are sophomores or younger.
“The young guys excited and they want to accomplish something out here,” Grant said. “Some were watching from the stands as high schoolers last year, but you have to go and compete to the best of your ability no matter where you are. Midlands is no different.”
Huskies to watch at the tournament include 141-pound lightning bolt Pat McLemore (Hinckley, Ohio/Padua Franciscan). The redshirt sophomore won the MAC Championship at 141 last season, and returned from injury in the Huskies’ last competition to pin Loras’ Jordan Loy in the first round. Redshirt junior Dan Ruettiger (Joliet, Ill./Providence) will also represent the Huskies at 141 pounds.
Northern Illinois’ strength at the lower weights continues with pin machine Tristen DeShazer (Wichita, Kan./Wichita West). The redshirt sophomore is enjoying taking over at 133 pounds for 100-win club member Pat Castillo. DeShazer has racked up a stunning eight falls in 10 wins, and it tied for 16th in the nation in the category.
The Huskies also hold a pair who are each among the national leaders in wins by freshman. At 125 pounds, Izzy Montemayor has tallied a 13-4 mark to rank 24th, and has three pins and a pair of major decisions to his name. Undefeated true freshman Steve Zimmerman (Chicago, Ill./St. Rita) also sits at 24th among first-year grapplers, and is one of two unbeaten freshmen in the country. In addition, Zimmerman is the only unbeaten wrestler left in the Mid-American Conference.
Redshirt junior Will McDermott (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) will look for the same success wrestling at 149 pounds at Midlands as he has in the classroom, where he is a 4.0 student. Sophomore TJ Wunnicke (Dodgeville, Wis./Dodgeville) will make his competitive debut at Midlands at 125.
Contenders for NIU at 157 include both Bryan Deutsch (Columbia City, Ind./Columbia City) and Michael Ryan (Kankakee, Ill./Bishop McNamara). At 165, sophomore Bryan O’Connor (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North) has outscored opponents 19-3 this year, but has been limited to just a 3-1 record by injury.
Freshman Derrick Yant (Delta, Ohio/Pike-Delta-York) holds the reigns at 174 pounds, where he has gone 6-7. At 184, Brad Dieckhaus (St. Charles, Mo./Francis Howell Central) has been slowed by injury, but is now ready to stack wins on top of his 1-1 record.
Redshirt freshman Scott Penny (Granite City, Ill./Granite City) leads the Huskies at 197 pounds, where he has gone 7-6 and won two of his last three matches. Freshman Zak Saevre (Green Bay, Wis./Ashwaubenon) will hold things down for NIU heavyweight.
The Huskies open 2009, Jan. 3 at the “Flash” Flanagan Open, where wrestlers that didn’t compete at Midlands will hit the mat.
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