Now in the heart of the Big Ten wrestling season, Northwestern (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) was able to pick up their first conference dual win of the year two weekends ago against Indiana.
Though they couldn’t follow that result up with another team win, they remained very competitive over their ensuing matchups, losing by a combined four team points against Michigan and Illinois.
On January 18, Northwestern faced off against IU at Welsh-Ryan Arena, picking up a solid 21-15 team victory over the Hoosiers. Taking six of the ten matches, the ‘Cats were led by another impressive major decision from top-ranked Ryan Deakin at 157, followed by a dominant 19-3 tech fall from Shayne Oster at 165.
Despite still not having All-American Sebastian Rivera at 133, Northwestern had a pretty good day across the board, showing a little more depth than they had previously. However, Rivera’s absence would be felt during their next two duals.
Six days after defeating Indiana, NU hosted a top-20 Michigan team at Welsh-Ryan Arena. After dropping their first three matches of the day, the ‘Cats headed into the 157 bout down 12-0. A 3-1 decision for Ryan Deakin over ninth-ranked Will Lewan set off a spark for Northwestern as they went on a tear, winning five straight matches — two of them by major decision — and taking a 17-12 lead going into the final two matches of the night.
After a tech fall for Michigan’s second-ranked Mason Parris over NU’s Jack Heyob at 285, the score was knotted up at an even 17-17. In a match that was seemingly sixth-ranked Michael DeAugustino’s for the taking, Michigan’s Jack Medley, who had lost to DeAugustino twice this year already, managed to pull off the 3-2 decision upset, clinching an unfortunate Michigan victory.
This past weekend, NU traveled to Urbana-Champaign to take on in-state rival Illinois. After once again dropping their first three matches of the day, including another upset againstDeAugustino, Northwestern managed to pick up five straight victories on the mat, earning a 15-11 lead with three matches to go. However, the ‘Cats were once again barely edged out to finish the day, losing two of their last three matches by major decisions and falling to the Illini 19-18.
While NU’s record in the Big Ten has left something to be desired, it is important to note that they’ve been without one of their best wrestlers for most of the Big Ten season. While it’s not guaranteed, I think it’s safe to assume that if SeaBass is active against Michigan and Illinois then NU is probably on a three game win streak right now.
While moral victories don’t mean much to the win-loss column, NU’s performances as of late have shown some depth, which will definitely come in handy during the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. Meanwhile, as individual wrestlers like Lucas Davison and Jack Jessen continue to make names for themselves, they are becoming guys to watch out for at a national level individually.
Northwestern’s next dual will be on Friday, February 7th at Welsh-Ryan Arena against Michigan State, their final home dual of the season.