After compiling one of the most successful wrestling seasons in recent history, No. 15 Northwestern picked up right where it left off, defeating Virginia 20-13.
The Wildcats won six of their 10 duals against the Cavaliers with victories for Trevor Chumbley, Troy Fisher and All-Americans Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, Yahya Thomas and Lucas Davison. DeAugustino and Fisher had major decision victories of 15-3 and 12-3 to earn extra points in the sound win.
Northwestern returns most of its starters from last year’s roster that placed sixth in the national championship, but the absence of Ryan Deakin is notable. During his time in Evanston, Deakin was a four-time All-American and three-time Big Ten champion, and he was crowned national champion last year. His talent is certainly hard to replace, but Chumbley, a redshirt junior, has gotten off to an impressive start. Against Virginia, Chumbley defeated No. 24 Jake Keating in a 5-2 victory, and at the Michigan State Open on Nov. 5, he won all five of his matches to take the 157 pounds title.
Following the season’s opening dual, FloWrestling placed five Wildcats in its top 20 national rankings. Davison clocked in at No. 6 for the heavyweight class, and DeAugustino came in at No. 4 for 125 pounds. Cannon and Thomas were slotted at No. 7 for 133 pounds and 149 pounds, respectively, while Fisher was ranked at No. 20 for the 174-pound class.
Redshirt seniors DeAugustino and Davison, and redshirt junior Cannon will play a big part in Northwestern’s quest back to the national championship as All-American veteran presences. Last season at the NCAAs, the Wildcats had a historic performance with these three wrestlers and Deakin. In their weight classes, DeAugustino, Davison and Cannon placed fourth, sixth and seventh, respectively. In their duals against UVA, Davison convincingly won 6-0, and Cannon came out victorious 4-3 in a third period ride-out.
Thomas and Fisher will also be players to watch this season. Thomas, a graduate student, has been consistently solid for Northwestern throughout his career, qualifying for the national tournament three times and even finishing third in his junior season. He won his dual 10-3 against Virginia. Fisher began his career at 1-10 as a freshman, but he went 17-10 last season and received a national championship bid. The junior has potential and a major decision victory is not a bad way to start a new season.
Currently ranked at No. 14, Northwestern has the pieces to replicate another dominant season. The Wildcats head back to competition on Dec. 2 and 3 in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.