Cougars better than record suggests, wrestling coach says
The season is underway for the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville wrestling team, and head coach Jeremy Spates told Metro East Sun that he thinks his team is better than its 1-2 record suggests.
“We’ve had some ups and downs early in the season,” Spates said. “We started out at the Iowa State Open and wrestled pretty well, but then we came back and lost a dual meet to Drexel, which is a little disappointing. Then we wrestled really well in the Lindenwood open and had a couple of guys place. We do feel like we’re a little bit better than we’ve performed up to this point.”
The season started out at the Harold Nichols Cyclone Open at Iowa State University, where three Cougars claimed the top place in their weight class. Junior John Muldoon took home the crown in the 141-pound weight class, knocking off two of his teammates before taking on Grand View University’s Grayson Brenna in the final.
Nate Higgins also took home first place in the 165-pound weight class by winning four decisions. Then in the final, he took on Daniel Kelly from the University of Northern Iowa. Higgins won the final by a score of 7-5.
The third Cougar who claimed a championship at the meet was Christian Dulaney, who won the 197-pound weight class. Dulaney opened the tournament with back-to-back wins by decision and then defeated Grand View’s Evan Hansen in the championship match.
Next up for the Cougars was a dual against Drexel University. Drexel was too much for the Cougars and won the dual 28-9, despite Muldoon, Higgins and Jake McKiernan winning their respective matches. Muldoon’s win saw him improve to 4-0 on the season.
After the dual against Drexel, the Cougars headed to the Lindenwood Open, where three SIUE wrestlers finished in the top six at the tournament. Once again, the team was led by Higgins, who took third place. Earlier in the day, Higgins lost his first match of the year to Dayton Racer of Clackamas Community College. Higgins rebounded in the third-place match, where he defeated Racer in their second match of the day.
Dulaney also performed well at the tournament, finishing sixth after having to bow out due to an injury.
On Dec. 2, the Cougars participated in two duals in Bloomington, Indiana, against Indiana University and Cleveland State University. SIUE fell to Indiana 40-6 but claimed a 21-20 win over Cleveland State. During the split, Dulaney performed especially well for SIUE, winning matches against Indiana’s Jake Hinz and Cleveland State’s John Kelby.
Spates said that throughout this year, Muldoon has been one of the keys to the Cougars team and said he expects Muldoon to continue to perform well. Spates also said he has been impressed by Higgins' contributions to the team.
“Nate Higgins won the Iowa State open, and he won his match against Drexel,” Spates said. “Then he placed third over the weekend at the Lindenwood Open, which is a really tough open.”
During the early part of the year, the Cougars were hampered by injuries, and Spates said he is excited to see what the team can do once everyone is back to full health.
“We’re a little bit banged up right now, and we need to get healthy,” Spates said. “That’s going to be a big key for us. We need to continue to get healthy, but I think we can do well. We have a pretty tough schedule ahead. I think we’ve had some good individual performances and if we can get all the individuals to perform together I think we can get some duel wins and do well in our conference.”
The wrestling season will continue throughout the winter and spring, with conference and NCAA tournaments getting underway in March.
For more information on the SIUE wrestling team, visit www.siuecougars.com.