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Wrestling: Northwestern Claims First Midlands Title

Unlike some NU teams, wrestling heads into conference play and the new year with well-earned optimism.

@MidlandsChamps on Twitter.

Northwestern’s early-season success continued with its first ever Ken Kraft Midlands team championship, held in nearby Hoffman Estates, Ill. from Dec. 29-Dec. 30. Among a field of 43 teams, which included 12 top-25 programs, Matt Storniolo’s home-field advantage paid off with three Wildcats claiming titles.

No. 14 Northwestern topped the leaderboard with 122 points and three individual winners. No. 20 Pittsburgh and Penn trailed with 115 in the 58th edition of the tournament.

Improving upon his second-place performance in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Lucas Davison was simply unstoppable. There was no match for the All-American heavyweight, who didn’t surrender a single point over five matches. Davison managed a fall, a 3-0 victory and two major decisions of 8-0 to earn extra points before claiming the 285-pound title on a 4-0 decision over Pittsburgh’s Dayton Pitzer.

Yahya Thomas also compiled two successful days for Northwestern in the 149-pound class. The All-American followed two major decision victories of 10-2 and 17-4 with two ranked wins. No. 7 Thomas took down No. 10 Doug Zapf in the semifinals and came out victorious in a 4-3 match against No. 5 Kyle Parco, who was the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Moreover, Thomas won the Art Kraft Men’s Champion of Champions Award

The third Northwestern title came from Trevor Chumbley in the 157-pound weight class. His two days were dominant, only yielding two points and picking up three decision victories in five berths. One of the major decisions came in the championship match, where Chumbley defeated Wisconsin’s Drew Scharenbrock 8-0.

He didn’t claim a title, but Chris Cannon, too, had a stellar two days that culminated in a second-place finish. En route to the finals, the All-American picked up four victories, including an 8-0 major decision. In the 133-pound championship, Cannon lost a close match to Michael Colaiocco in a 3-2 decision. The Penn wrestler is No. 13 in the nation and was No. 4 in the tournament.

Troy Fisher and Evan Bates also made it to the quarterfinals, making for six Wildcats in the round, but they did not advance. In the consolation rounds, Bates managed an eighth-place finish in the 184-pound class. Fisher, unfortunately, did not have the same success, forfeiting the first round due to medical reasons.

Northwestern also had podium placements with Aiden Vandenbush in 157 pounds and Andrew Davison in 197 pounds. Both only competed in two matches before entering the consolation bracket, where Vandenbush finished seventh and Davison third.

With Michael DeAugustino still sidelined after suffering an injury before the Cliff Keen Invitational, Northwestern coming away with a tournament title is a significant morale booster. NU seems to have the pieces for another successful season but will need DeAugustino back, as the redshirt senior is expected to be a significant contributor.

2022 has been good for the Wildcats: a sixth-place finish in the national championship and now, the first crown in a tournament created by and named after Northwestern legend Ken Kraft. The ‘Cats return to the mats in the new year and begin a series of seven consecutive Big Ten matchups against Minnesota in Evanston on Jan. 7.