Happy new year! With 2019 coming to an end, we say goodbye to a decade and welcome in the 2020s. What we don’t have to say goodbye to, however, is wrestling season. Phew.
In the final weekend of the last decade, Northwestern hosted the 57th Annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Hoffman Estates, one of the largest tournaments in college wrestling. With high expectations going into the event, let’s see how the ‘Cats fared on the mat:
At 125, red-hot RS freshman Michael DeAugustino entered the weekend ranked 8th in the country, and looked prime to try and make a run near the top of the podium. He did just that. DeAugustino started the first day with two solid victories over Old Dominion’s Anothony Molton and NIU’s Bryce West, winning by decision in both bouts.
In the Round of 16, he picked up yet another sound victory, taking down Central Michigan’s Drew Hildebrandt 5-1 thanks to a takedown and near fall in achieved during overtime.
After taking a default victory in the semis due to a medical forfeit from Iowa’s Spencer Lee, DeAugustino was set to wrestle for a championship against Princeton’s Pat Glory. In his final match of the tournament, the freshman fell to Glory 4-0, giving up a bonus point with riding time.
While it would have been interesting to see how he would have stacked up against 2x national champion Lee, DeAugustino still had a solid showing during the weekend and cemented himself among the top 10 wrestlers in the country at 125.
Additionally, freshman Chris Cannon had a solid showing in his first tournament, notching a 7th-place finish at 125.
Wrestling in his first tournament since moving to 133, Sebastian Rivera was going to have to put together a dominant weekend in order to secure his second straight Midlands championship.
SeaBass cruised to the semi-finals after winning his first three matches by major decision, tallying 16 total takedowns combined. In his semifinal matchup, Rivera took on Wisconsin’s Seth Gross, the country’s second-ranked wrestler at 133. Despite leading most of the match, a near fall in the third period gave Gross a 8-6 edge over Rivera with a minute-thirty to go. After securing a stalling point and seemingly a reversal, it had appeared Rivera had earned himself a spot in the championship match. However, the reversal was waived off after video review, and Gross took the match 8-7.
In his third place match, Rivera had to default after the second period despite leading 5-3 against Illinois’ Travis Piotrowski, leading to a fourth-place finish.
While the result wasn’t quite what he probably had wanted, Rivera still looked very impressive at his new weight class and will certainly be a contender come time for the NCAA championships.
Like Cannon at 125, NU also had a second place-winner at 133, with first-year wrestler Colin Valdiviez placing 7th.
At 141, Alec McKenna, Justin Benjamin, and Micah Krueger all competed. After first-round losses from all three, they entered the consolation rounds. With Krueger losing his first match of the consolation, McKenna and Benjamin were able to make their way to the second round of 16 consolation matches before falling.
While there wasn’t a whole lot of winning at this class, this will be good experience for Benjamin, who is just a first-year wrestler.
In one of the more surprising upsets of the weekend, NU’s Yahya Thomas, who entered the tournament with the #4 seed, fell to Indiana’s Graham Rooks with a 5-4 decision. Later on in the round of 32, Trevor Chumbley fell 6-2 to Brett Kaliner of the Stevens Institute.
After both upsets, NU’s 141 wrestlers found themselves matched up against each other in the consolation round of 16, with Kaliner besting Thomas 3-2. Kaliner would go on to lose 10-2 to American’s Kizhan Clarke in the following round.
This was one of the more disappointing outcomes from the tournament, as Thomas was expected to at the very least place in the top 8.
Northwestern’s top-ranked 157 wrestler Ryan Deakin was ruled out the day of the tournament, for unknown reasons. This was definitely a blow to the overall team score, as Deakin would have been the favorite to take the top place.
Entering the tournament with the six seed, Shayne Oster cruised through his first two matches against Iowa’s Jeremiah Moody and Penn’s Brian Krasowski, winning both by major decision.
In the Round of 16, Oster was upset by Illinois’ Danny Braunagel 10-2, thanks to four takedowns from Braunagel.
After winning his first consolation match, Oster was upset once again, with NIU’s 14-seed Izzak Olejnik winning 6-1.
After a dominant first round, Tyler Moreland fell to Wisconsin’s Jared Krattiger 3-2, only managing to score points off of two escapes.
Moreland was able to salvage his early upset, however, finishing 8th in the tournament after having to forfeit in his 7th place match.
Jack Jessen was able to secure a 10-4 victory over Princeton’s Kendall Elfstrum in the first round, but fell 11-3 to Campbell’s Andrew Morgan in the following match.
Like Moreland, Jessen was able to make a solid run in the consolation rounds, finishing 7th overall with three straight victories and a nice upset victory over American’s Tanner Harvey.
After culminating a solid season thus far, freshman Lucas Davison was given the 6-seed entering the weekend.
Davison won his first two matches against Iowa’s Connor Corbin and Central Michigan’s Aaron Bolo, 8-0 and 9-4, respectively. The freshman was unable to defeat second-ranked Christian Brunner of Purdue, but put up a good fight in his 8-5 loss.
Unfortunately, Davison he fell just short of another victory and a spot in the top eight, falling to Army’s J.T. Brown in his first consolation match.
Northwestern did not field a wrestler at 285 for Midlands this year.
While it seemed that Northwestern was definitely looking to finish among the top five teams at this year’s Midlands, a combination of early-round upsets and not fielding one of their best wrestlers kept them from doing so. NU finished 9th with an overall team score of 70.5, with their lightweight classes looking very solid.
While these results aren’t quite what the ‘Cats wanted, they still showed a lot of potential and have time to make improvements before the NCAA Championships in March.