Wrestling earns first conference win at home meet

At last season's meet against Northern Illinois, current redshirt junior Matt Malavsky faces off with the Huskies' Bryce West. This season, the Cougars took a 10-27 loss against Northern Illinois.

Wrestling picked up its first conference win Saturday with a 28-12 victory over Clarion. The team also took a 15-19 loss against Buffalo and 10-27 loss against Northern Illinois. 

The Cougars were led by 141-pound redshirt sophomore Saul Ervin, who claimed victory in all three of his match-ups. Ervin kicked off the meet by outwrestling Buffalo’s Derek Spann 5-1. 

Ervin then faced Clarion’s Kyle Schickel, scoring multiple takedowns during the match. In the second period, he escaped from Schickel and scrambled to a slick takedown, ending with a score of 13-5. 

Ervin continued with his match against Northern Illinois’ Caleb Brooks. In seconds, he shot for a single leg and scored a takedown. The match ended with a score of 5-2. 

 Ervin said he strives to control the flow of every one of his matches. 

“A normal mindset of mine is that I want to get to my attacks and my ties. I don’t want the opponent to control the match, so you could kind of feel the pace during a match and I like to set the tone. If the pace is going their way, I like to make little mental blocks in my head to try to get it back to my match. I’m always making sure to stay calm and collected,” Ervin said. 

Justin Ruffin, a 157-pound junior, had wins in every match as well. For his first match against  Buffalo’s Michael Petite, Ruffin scored a 5-1. His match with Clarion was against Taylor Ortz, who Ruffin pinned 37 seconds into the match with a head pinch. 

“I was really excited to have three conference duels to wrestle. The team seemed pretty energized that day so I was real excited and I was just ready to go to war with everybody,” Ruffin said. 

Ruffin said he was proud of how the team grew after a defeat against Clarion a week earlier.

“I thought we were performing really well as a whole. I thought there were a lot of improvements made from previous weekends. I thought it was nice to see we wrestled Clarion again and we got to beat them. They had beat us the previous weekend, so that was fun,” Ruffin said. 

Sergio Villalobos, a junior who’s wrestling at the 184 and 197 weight classes, won against Buffalo’s Adam Daghestani with a score of 14-6. Villalobos also won his match against Clarion wrestler Brett Wittmann with a score of 16-0. However, Villalobos was defeated 5-1 in his third match, facing Northern Illinois’ Will Feldkamp. Even with the loss, Villalobos said he was happy with his performance.

“I thought I wrestled pretty well, there’s certain areas that I could work on. I [have to] be more patient, but other than that, I was pretty happy with my performance,” Villalobos said. 

Head Coach Jeremy Spates said he thought his team competed well at the meet.

“I thought overall, we competed really well this weekend. We still made some mental mistakes, we still have some technical things to clean up, but overall we wrestled well,” Spates said. 

The Cougars compete next at 1 p.m. Feb. 7 in Columbia, Missouri.

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