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Wrestling: Northwestern earns two individual championships in successful start to postseason

Ryan Deakin remains undefeated, while Sebastian Rivera brought home his second straight Big Ten title.

COLLEGE WRESTLING: MAR 08 Big Ten Wrestling Championships Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This past weekend, Northwestern wrestling participated in the Big Ten Championships in Piscataway, NJ. Entering with expectations to finish in the top half of the conference, the ‘Cats were able to do just that, earning some impressive individual accolades along the way.

Going into Saturday, NU had five wrestlers looking to finish on the podium based off of their pre-seed, with four of those five sitting in the top five of their respective weight classes. Sure enough, at the end of Sunday, all five of those wrestlers stood on the podium, finishing at or higher than their pre-seed entering the tournament.

Highlighting these placewinners were champions Sebastian Rivera (133) and Ryan Deakin (157), who both dominated over the weekend on their way to a pair of Big Ten titles. Having not lost yet all season, Deakin began the weekend as the No. 1 overall seed at 157, giving him a first-round bye. From there, he rolled on his way to his first Big Ten championship, outscoring his opponents 24-5 over three matches.

Rivera, despite limited time competing during the regular season (he only competed in 11 NCAA matches since November), was able to capture his second Big Ten title in as many years. Starting off as the fifth seed, Rivera took control of his first two matches, winning the first by fall, followed by a 9-4 decision in the quarterfinals.

Meeting with Wisconsin’s Seth Gross in the semifinals, Rivera earned a 7-6 decision over the No. 1 seed, sending him onto the championship bout. There, Rivera picked up yet another solid 7-2 victory over Penn State’s Roman Bravo-Young, securing the championship at 133 pounds.

In addition to his top-place finish, Rivera’s performance against a gauntlet of top-tier opponents (thanks to his lower seed) earned him the Big Ten Championships’ Most Outstanding Wrestler award, as voted on by coaches of the tournament.

Michael DeAugustino had an impressive weekend at 125 as well, finishing the tournament in third place, with his lone loss against eventual second-place winner Devin Schroder of Purdue. This was a solid finish for DeAugustino, and serves as a performance that could definitely see him get a boost in seeding for the NCAA tournament.

Finally, Lucas Davison (197) and Shayne Oster (165) wrestled their way to a pair of fifth-place finishes, rounding off Northwestern’s placewinners for the weekend.

As a team, the ‘Cats finished sixth, barely edged out of a top-five finish by Purdue, whose 83 team points bested NU’s 79.5. This is an improvement from the team’s outing last season, where their 53.5 team points were only good enough for eighth place.

From here, there’s only one event left in college wrestling this season — the NCAA Championships. The ‘Cats are guaranteed at least five wrestlers at NCAAs, as automatic bids are awarded to everyone that finished in the top five this past weekend. At-large bids are available for everyone else, and it’s likely that a couple more of Storniolo’s guys will find themselves competing in Minneapolis.

The NCAA Championships selection show will be held on Wednesday, March 11, with the at-large bids being announced today. The championships themselves will be held at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis from March 19-21.