Sunday, October 10, 2021

2022: The Preseason: Northern Illinois

 Throughout the early 00's, the Huskies of Northern Illinois were rather competitive within the MAC crowning champions and runner-ups, while sending 3-6 wrestlers to the NCAA's every year with an All American or two.  Slipping off for a period of time, they continue to reestablish their former status.  This year should rather good for the Huskies as they have the potential to crown 3 MAC champions, 1 MAC runner-up and an individual that could potentially win an NCAA title. 

Bryce West
Record: 64-40
NCAA: 19'NQ, 21'NQ
MAC: 19'3rd, 20'7th, 21'5th

Based on how he has fared thus far against MAC competition, I see West once again finishing about 5th in the conference, but that should again, be good enough for NCAA qualification.  Stands a decent shot of bringing home a medal at Midlands. 

Anthony Cheloni
Record: 55-24
MAC: 21'3rd 

I think Brent Moore of Virginia Tech is out of Cheloni's league, but there isn't anyone else in the MAC that he can't beat.  I think a runner-up showing at the MAC championships is very doable for Cheloni.  Like West, he contends for a medal at Midlands. 

Izzak Olejnik 
Record: 40-18
NCAA: 20'NQ, 21'NQ
MAC: 20'2nd, 21'2nd
MIDLANDS: 20'8th 

After two MAC runner-up finishes the past two seasons, I believe Olejnik has a very good shot at winning an MAC title this season.  Within the NCAA a 6-5 victory over Jake Keating & defeating Illinois' Danny Braunagel twice by scores of 7-5 & 6-1 stick out.  It should also be noted that he took Arizona State's Anthony Valencia into sudden victory.  

Mason Kauffman
Record: 52-40
MAC: 21'4th 

A fun feud to watch this season will be between Kauffman and Edinboro's Jacob Oliver who went back & forth last season with Kauffman winning a 3-1 sudden victory and Oliver winning a 3-1 sudden victory and a 5-4 tiebreaker.  The two should battle one another for the MAC title. 

Brit Wilson 
Record: 87-18
NCAA: 19'NQ, 20'NQ, 21'6th
MAC: 19'2nd, 21'1st, 21'1st
MIDLANDS: 19'3rd 

184 lbs is plain and simple a tough freakin' weight class.  As Wilson looks for his third MAC title, I will say that he's also a darkhorse shot at the NCAA title.  Ironically enough the only time he seemed to be out of a match last season was against Oklahoma State's Dakota Geer who defeated him 6-0.  Yet Geer was manhandled by Louie DePrez of Binghamton and Wilson defeated DePrez 7-1.  So go figure.  Isn't parity fun?  A 3-1 loss to Trent Hidlay of North Carolina State & a bad shot that turned what would have been a 6-5 loss into an 8-5 loss to Northern Iowa's Parker Keckeisen.  These seem like fixable mistakes to me, so yes Wilson's name remains on the list for those who contend for the NCAA title at 184 this season. 


All things considered I think that 5 NCAA qualifiers, with four in the MAC finals, three with a good shot at MAC titles is a rather good showing for the Huskies.  Assistant coach Dominick Moyer & I were in the same kid's club for many years & I love seeing the program grow with him helping to lead them.  The real test will be at Midlands, which should be an indicator to where the Huskies are and where they'll end up. 

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