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Wrestling: ‘Cats end conference skid with wins over Illinois and Maryland

NU finally got back to dominating on the mat.

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

After a rough start to the new year for the mat ‘Cats, NU wrestling got back on track with two straight team wins over conference opponents. Here’s a recap of everything that went down.

Following a two meet home stretch, Northwestern wrestling hit the road again, meeting the Fighting Illini in Champaign on January 29. In a return to form, the ‘Cats took home their first Big Ten win of the season, taking a solid 26-13 victory aided by extra point wins.

Opening the night, Michael DeAugustino took a low-scoring 1-0 decision over Justin Cardani at 125.

Illinois responded strong, however, taking the next two matches at 133 and 141. NU responded with two more wins of its own, with Yahya Thomas and Ryan Deakin dominating with a fall and tech fall, respectively.

NU and Illinois traded wins in the next four matches, with Northwestern taking a 3-1 decision at 174 from Troy Fisher and an impressive pin from Andrew Davison in a high-scoring match against Nikita Nepomnyashchiy at 197. In the final match, the ‘Cats got their second Davison win of the afternoon with a 3-2 decision.

Despite the match total being a tight 6-4, Northwestern’s dominance in wins allowed for a comfortable 26-13 victory. Among the ‘Cats’ six wins of the night included two pins and a tech fall, earning NU eight extra points compared to decision victories. Overall, it was a solid performance in a much-needed win for NU.

After a week off, the ‘Cats returned to Welsh-Ryan Arena, facing off against the Maryland Terrapins in February 6. Taking on what is likely the worst team in the Big Ten, NU was expected to dominate, which is exactly what the team did.

DeAugustino set the tone with a 20-4 tech fall over Tommy Capul, starting what would be a six-match win streak for the ‘Cats.

Chris Cannon bounced back after a loss the week prior, as the 9th-ranked grappler cruised to a 6-0 decision over King Sandoval at 133.

NU took the next four matches all by five or more points, with Tal-Shahar, Thomas, Chumbley and Ferrante bringing the ‘Cats’ lead to 21-0.

Finally, the Terrapins got on the board with wins from Dom Solis at 174 and Kyle Cochran at 184, bringing the total to 21-7. To finish the afternoon, the Davison brothers picked up back-to-back wins once again with Andrew earning a 4-1 decision and Lucas taking home a 22-7 tech fall.

All in all, the ‘Cats finished with a 29-7 victory over the Terps, earning their second straight win in Big Ten play. Wrestling with a full-strength roster following the return of Ryan Deakin, this team has looked a lot more well-rounded, and the results speak to that development. While the two teams they just beat haven’t been their toughest tests of the year, winning duals in the Big Ten is never easy, and this is hopefully a spark that will keep the team going through the end of the season.

With three duals left against Michigan State, Northern Illinois and Purdue, Northwestern has a very real chance at finishing the season with five straight wins heading into the Big Ten Tournament, something that could bring a lot of momentum for the team in Lincoln.

The ‘Cats next dual will be tonight at 6 PM at Michigan State. Following that match, they return to Evanston on the 13th to take on Northern Illinois.