After winning the Big Ten Championship at 125 pounds two weeks ago, Sebastian Rivera placed third in the same weight class at nationals on Saturday. The redshirt sophomore grappler, ranked tops in the country coming into the tournament, recovered from a shocking loss in the semifinals to place higher than any other Wildcat wrestler.
Rivera (aka C-Bass) suffered his first loss of the season at 125 pounds to fifth-ranked Jack Mueller on Friday before responding with two wins in Saturday’s consolation round. Mueller went on to lose to Spencer Lee of Iowa, who Rivera beat twice in the regular season, including for the Big Ten title.
Rivera took down Princeton’s Pat Glory, who he had also beaten for the New Jersey state championship at 113 pounds three years ago, to reach the third place match. He then beat Cornell’s Vitali Arujau (who he also took down in the quarterfinals to earn his second straight All-American honors) by decision to finish things off.
Fellow sophomore Ryan Deakin joined his teammate in becoming an All-American, rebounding from a quarterfinal loss to take sixth. The pair of Wildcats became the first Northwestern teammates to achieve the feat since 2016. The third-seeded Deakin beat Josh Humphreys of Lehigh and Larry Early of Old Dominion to reach the consolation semifinals, eventually taking sixth.
Fifth year senior Conan Jennings joined his teammate in advancing past the first round. The twelfth-rated heavyweight was participating in his third NCAA Championships. Redshirt first year Tyler Morland and junior Shayne Oster also made appearances, with each losing in their opening matchup.
The Wildcats, who finished the season 5-10 in the loaded in Big Ten, placed 22nd in the championships. Conference champions Penn State continued the league’s stranglehold on the national scene by winning the team championship. Six other Big Ten teams finished in the top ten, including Ohio State in second, Iowa in fourth, and Michigan in fifth.