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Northwestern non-revenue sports update: Let’s talk about wrestling

Northwestern wrestling is up to No. 17 in the nation!

Wrestling - No. 17 in the country

Northwestern has never been known as a wrestling school. Since 1990, Northwestern has finished over .500 in the wrestling-crazy Big Ten exactly once (2010-2011). But with the hiring of Matt Storniolo in March 2016, things are heading in a new direction. The Wildcats sit at 8-2 and No. 17 in the country. They have two wins over ranked opponents and their two ranked losses were by a combined margin of 2 points.

Sunday’s win over then-No. 14 Minnesota was the most dramatic yet. Down 18-14 with one individual match remaining, Ryan Deakin (the No. 5 wrestler in the nation in the 149-pound class) needed to get a pin and the bonus points to save Northwestern from defeat. Deakin, coming in undefeated at 9-0 in dual competition, pulled off a quick and emphatic pin to notch 10 points and get Northwestern a second ranked win.

It’s been close to a dream season for the Wildcats, who had just 4 Big Ten wins in the three previous seasons. The season started with six consecutive victories and a sixth place finish at the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships. Northwestern is already up to three conference wins and came up a point short to Nebraska and Illinois.

The most exciting part of Northwestern’s rise is the young talent the program has developed. Two redshirt freshmen — the aforementioned Deakin and Sebastian Rivera — have been revelations this season. Deakin has been the main standard bearer, going 24-3 thus far. But Rivera, ranked No. 10 in the country at 125 pounds, has been no slouch, going 20-1 overall without a loss in Big Ten play.

No. 18 Johnny Sebastian, wrestling at 174 pounds, has also been impressive. He’s 20-7 this year with just one loss in dual meets. Northwestern just has great depth, an aspect of the team that has been completely missing in the past. What a great job by Storniolo and his staff.

Northwestern wrestling takes on No. 19 Rutgers at Patten Gym on Friday night at 7 p.m. Try to make it out there! You won’t be disappointed.

Women’s tennis

Look, women’s tennis is going to be a thing this season. Lee Orr is solid. The immortal Maddie Lipp is back for another year and should be her usual self. Northwestern has a really good doubles team. The Wildcats started their 2018 campaign in style, winning their first three contests 6-1, 7-0, and 4-0. The third contest was an absolute demolition of No. 21 Kentucky in Lexington.

Then, Northwestern came extremely close to knocking off No. 17 UCLA, but lost 4-3 in a heartbreaker. The tie was leveled at 3-3 as UCLA’s Alaina Miller and Northwestern’s Alex Chatt went into the third set. Chatt recovered from a set down, but failed to close out the match after going up 4-2 in the third, eventually dropping four straight games.

Northwestern missed out on a chance to qualify for ITA National Indoors, but it will get a chance to redeem itself when the Wildcats face No. 4 Texas on February 4th in Evanston.

Men’s tennis

After a tough loss to N.C. State, the men’s tennis team rebounded with a strong 5-0 win over Boise State. The men also split their trip to the ITA Kickoff Tournament, falling to Oklahoma 4-1 but coming back the next day to beat Georgia Tech 4-1. How Northwestern’s young team will fare in the stretch ahead (Duke, Oklahoma State, Notre Dame) will go a long way to determining what this team is capable of in 2018.