After an almost two-week hiatus, the ‘Cats hit the mat for the first time in 2020 this past weekend. In their first two Big Ten duals against top-20 teams in Purdue and Penn State, NU’s squad continued to show plenty of potential, despite finishing on the losing end of both.
On Friday, Northwestern hosted their first home dual in nearly seven weeks, facing off against the Boilermakers. In their first dual of an absolutely loaded Big Ten schedule, the ‘Cats held their own, especially considering that they were down two key wrestlers.
The night started out with a solid top-10 matchup at 125, with NU’s seventh-ranked Michael DeAugustino facing off against Purdue’s fifth-ranked Devin Schroder. Schroder got out to a quick start, ending the first period with a 6-0 lead. He never looked back, finishing the match with a 11-2 victory and scoring Purdue their first major decision of the night.
At 133, NU’s Sebastian Rivera was out once again, leaving junior Dylan Utterback to take his place against fifth-ranked Travis Ford-Melton. Although Utterback managed to keep it respectable through a period, Ford-Melton blew the match open towards the end, winning the bout 14-4 with yet another major decision for Purdue.
Northwestern and Purdue traded the next two matches, with Alec McKenna securing the victory at 141, and Eric Yang, filling in for Yahya Thomas, falling at 149.
It another top-10 matchup for Ryan Deakin at 157, the top-ranked wrestler dominated eighth-ranked Kendall Coleman 14-0, earning NU their sole major decision of the night. In his third straight match against a top-10 opponent, Deakin remained undefeated on the year and solidified himself as the top collegiate wrestler in the country at 157.
Northwestern managed to win one of the next three matches, with Shayne Oster earning a 5-2 decision over Purdue’s Tanner Webster. Tyler Moreland nearly pulled off a major upset against fourth-ranked and undefeated Dylan Lydy, but questionable officiating led to Lydy earning a late stalling point, ending the match in his favor, 2-1.
To round off the night, Northwestern’s Lucas Davison notched one of the biggest upsets of the year in a rematch at 197 against second-ranked Christian Brunner. After falling to Brunner 8-5 at the Midlands quarterfinals, Davison pulled of a 4-2 victory, scoring a takedown in sudden victory. After a challenge from Purdue’s bench, the officials ruled that the call would stand, and Davison was awarded the decision.
With Purdue topping NU with a team score of 21-13, there still wasn’t much for the ‘Cats to hold their heads about. With two (nearly three) victories over top-10 opponents and some solid efforts in losing bouts, NU entered Sunday’s dual against Penn State looking to possibly shake things up. However, that wasn’t quite the case on Sunday.
Starting the day at 133, NU dropped their first three matches, two against top-three wrestlers in tech falls, falling behind 0-13 in the team score early.
Northwestern captured their first win of the night at 157, with top-ranked Deakin taking a 6-0 decision to remain undefeated.
NU then dropped two more back-to-back matches against No. 1 wrestlers, with Penn State’s Vincenzo Joseph winning with a fall over Shayne Oster, and Mark Hall taking a tech fall over Tyler Moreland.
The ‘Cats were able to finish the night on a high note, though, winning two of their last three matches. Lucas Davison finished his great weekend with a 7-5 decision over Shakur Rasheed, moving him to 8-4 on the season.
In the final match of the night, Michael DeAugustino bounced back at 125, taking a solid 7-3 decision over Brandon Meredith.
With a final team score of 30-9, Penn State’s dominance proved to be too much for NU’s squad. With four total falls/tech falls for the Nittany Lions, the extra points they gain make them very hard to beat, which makes sense — they have won eight of the last nine NCAA team championships.
The weekend as a whole had some great bouts and showed that NU may have yet another top-15 wrestler in Lucas Davison, who could possibly end up contending come March.
Northwestern’s next dual comes against Indiana on January 19 at Welsh-Ryan Arena.