Colder weather indicates a move to indoor sports. Northwestern wrestling has reached new heights in recent seasons but with Lucas Davison, Michael DeAugustino and Chris Cannon transferring to Michigan for their graduate seasons, the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them. Here’s a preview of what to expect.
2022-23 Season Recap
In its first season without 2022 NCAA champion Ryan Deakin, Northwestern performed fairly well. The squad went 7-3 (5-3 B1G), picking up wins against No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 23 Rutgers, while only falling to No. 2 Iowa, No. 4 Ohio State and No. 16 Nebraska.
The ‘Cats got off to a fast start, finishing 10th in a field of 30 at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational and winning the program's first-ever Ken Kraft Midlands Championship. The CKLV was highlighted by five podium finishes with Lucas Davison in second place, Yahya Thomas in third, Trevor Chumbley and Troy Fisher in fifth and Cannon in eighth.
Lucas Davison, Chumbley and Thomas all claimed individual titles, while Cannon clocked in at second, Andrew Davison at third, Aiden Vandenbush at seventh and Evan Bates at eighth at Midlands.
Beyond the postseason, NU performed solidly with a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Championship that featured seven top-six podium fishes with DeAugstino, Cannon and Chumbley all achieving upsets en route to a fourth-place finish. The bouts also secured eight automatic bids into the NCAA Championships for DeAugustino, Cannon, Thomas, Chumbley, Frankie Tal-Shahar, Maxx Mayfield and Andrew and Lucas Davison.
The Wildcats finished in 25th — their worst finish in the Tournament since the 2016-2017 season. The underwhelming performance; however, should not overshadow a strong season or the fifth-place finish from Lucas Davison, who had just earned All-American honors for the second time in his career.
2023-24 Season Preview
With notable losses from the program’s biggest names, the squad has a learning curve in front of itt. Head coach Matt Stoniolo is going to need some wrestlers to step up, and here are a few bound to be getting some time on the mats.
157 — Trevor Chumbley
The redshirt senior will likely be one of the most significant wrestlers for NU. Last season was his first as a starter, and he took on that role well with a 27-9 record. He had podium finishes in the CKLV and Midlands (the first Wildcat 157-pounder to take home the title since 2012) and won a pair of matches in NCAA’s. If he lives up to expectations, Chumbley is in for a successful year.
174 — Troy Fisher
Fisher proved his talent in an impressive junior season. The redshirt finished fifth at CKLV, garnered two wins before exiting due to an injury at Midlands and entered NCAA as the No. 19 seed, which he opened with an upset victory. The senior will look to grow off his 20-8 record and be another anchor of the lineup.
141 — Frankie Tal-Shahar
Another well-known name on this lineup, the junior is looking to place at the NCAA Championships, where he lost in the third consolation round after two wins. He put together a strong end to his regular season, winning his last seven bouts and continuing that success with a fifth-place finish in the Big Ten Championship.
165 — Maxx Mayfield
His redshirt sophomore season was his first as a Northwestern starter. Mayfield put up an impressive season going 25-13, and earning a No. 18 seed at the NCAA Championships, a fifth-place finish at Big Tens and three wins in the Midlands. Mayfield’s junior year could be a momentous one.
184 — Evan Bates
The redshirt sophomore is currently listed at 197 pounds, but he made the switch to wrestling in the 184-pound decision last year, where he posted a 19-18 record with seven major decision victories. They included a major decision victory to place eighth at Midlands and a decision victory during the Big Ten Championship.
157 — Aiden Vandenbush
As a redshirt first year, Vandebush won five straight matches in the consolation bracket to earn a seventh-place finish at Midlands and posted a 16-8 record overall.
165 — David Ferrante
In his first two seasons, Ferrante made it to the NCAA and the Big Ten Championships. The highlight was a fifth-place finish at Big Tens in 2021-2022. Last year, Ferrante only had eight appearances due to an injury, but his senior season offers the opportunity for him to reach his full potential.
Losing three All-Americans to a Big Ten foe is far from ideal and creates a gaping hope for this squad. Additionally, Thomas and Andrew Davison, who did the opposite of his brother by transferring to NU from Michigan for graduate school, are gone. The ‘Cats are very clearly absent of their most prominent wrestlers who faired well last season. To be frank, this season may be about rebuilding and training younger wrestlers, but Chumbley, Fisher and Tal-Sharar are ones to watch as they are capable of amassing great individual success.
Northwestern opens its season on Sunday in the Michigan State Open.