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Wrestling: ‘Cats rack up victories in first two tournaments of the season

Ryan Deakin stays winning.

NCAA Wrestling: NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern wrestling returned to the mat last month, having wrestled in two tournaments since. Although the season is still young, the ‘Cats have already claimed a handful of individual titles, along with numerous other impressive performances from young talent. Here’s what’s happened so far:

Northwestern opened the season in East Lansing for the Michigan State Open, their first time competing at the event since 2017. Of the eleven wrestlers sent to the tournament, the ‘Cats finished with two champions and two second-place finishes, with the team tallying a solid 34-14 overall record for the weekend.

Titles were taken home by Troy Fisher at 174 and Lucas Davison at heavyweight, with both wrestlers posting 4-0 records in their respective brackets.

Fisher showed flashes of dominance in the final round of his weight class, defeating Oklahoma’s Anthony Mantanona with a 16-7 major decision. With his tournament championship, Fisher has already surpassed his win total from the previous season, where he went 1-10 in his first year wrestling attached.

Lucas Davison, making the switch from 197 to heavyweight for his redshirt junior season, had seemingly no problems adjusting to the new weight class. Starting off hot with three straight decisions by five or more points — including two victories over top 25 opponents — Davison finished the tourney with a 2-0 decision in the finals against Oklahoma’s Josh Heindselman.

Despite making one of the tougher weight class switches from 197 to 285, Davison held his own with no problem. This move could be a major one for the entire team, with the heavyweight class being a glaring issue for the program over the past few seasons.

Aside from the two top-place finishers, Trevor Chumbley and David Ferrante finished second-place at 157 and 165, respectively, with Ferrante displaying complete domination, earning three major decisions and one fall on the weekend. Graduate transfer Andrew Davison, brother of Lucas, finished third at 197 as well, posting a 4-1 record in his first showing as a Wildcat.

Moving on, NU had nearly a month-long break until they’d compete again, having their only dual of November — a home meet against SIU-Evansville on November 13 — postponed for unknown reasons. Their annual trip to Las Vegas, however, was not postponed, with the ‘Cats participating in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas tournament on December 3 and 4.

Northwestern put on another impressive team showing in Vegas, with five ‘Cats earning podium finishes and the team finishing fourth overall.

Wrestling for the first time this season, senior Ryan Deakin did what he always does — win. The two-time all-American dominated the competition en route to his 3rd CKLV championship at 157, going 5-0 over a weekend that included three victories over top 15 opponents.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Cannon earned a second-place finish at his CKLV debut, finishing 4-1 on the weekend, losing only in the championship match against Michigan’s Dylan Ragusin. The former All-American didn’t get the finish he may have wanted, but his overall performance on the weekend was second to none, outscoring opponents 28-4 in his first four matches.

NU’s third All-American from last season, Yahya Thomas, earned a fourth-place finish at 149, going 4-1 on the weekend, with his sole loss being a 6-4 decision to Ohio State’s second-ranked Sammy Sasso. While his podium finish was lower than some may have expected, this tournament had NCAA Championship-level talent, with two of the three wrestlers ahead of Thomas being ranked in the top three of their class.

Finally, Troy Fisher and Lucas Davison earned fifth-place finishes at 174 and 285, respectively, continuing their hot streaks from the Michigan State Open.

The team finished fourth overall behind Big Ten foes Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan.

With these two tournaments done, the ‘Cats have picked right back up on the consistent improvement seen throughout last season. Troy Fisher is starting what seems to have the potential to become a breakout year, and David Ferrante might not be too far behind. Lucas Davison’s move to 285 has closed a hole that was in dire need of filling, and while that creates a new hole at his former 197 spot, his older brother Andrew has fared well in competition thus far. Pair these new developments with a group of All-Americans and seasoned veterans at the lower weight classes, and this team could be competing for another top 10 finish nationally come March.

Northwestern won’t take the mat again until December 29 and 30, when they host the 58th annual Ken Craft Midlands Championships at NOW Arena in Hoffman Estates.