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Wrestling: First-years stand out with one month down

Colder weather means it’s time for indoor sports.

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Northwestern wrestling looks a bit different this season, but the younger talent has provided reason for optimism. Although Big Ten play doesn’t begin until the middle of January, the ‘Cats have had a busy month of tournaments.

Michigan State Open

Northwestern opened its season with nine podium finishes, including two titles, in the Michigan State Open.

First-year Jacob Bostelman claimed the title in the 157-pound freshman/sophomore division. He picked up victories by a margin of 4-3 and 4-2, before winning by a technical fall in the semifinals. Another technical fall in the championship round sealed off the momentous day.

Joel VanderVere had similar luck in the 141-pound open division. Following three decisions of 5-3, 11-7 and 7-3, the redshirt sophomore was granted a bye in the championship. Colby McClain and Sam Cartella also had strong showings for first-years, booking a second-place and third-place finish in the 141 and 149-pound divisions, respectively.

In the 197-pound open division, redshirt sophomore Evan Bates and graduate student Jack Jessen found success in the silver and bronze spots. Bates, who ranked No. 20 at the time, took down two Big Ten foes in Michigan State’s Lucas Daly and Michigan’s Brendin Yatooma en route to the runner-up spot.

Lindenwood Open

The following week, the ‘Cats headed to Missouri where they secured four third-place finishes.

After losing his first match, redshirt junior David Ferrante won four straight bouts. He took third place in the 174-pound division after pinning his opponent in just 41 seconds.

Bostelman and fellow first-years Massey Odiotti and Luiz Bazan scored third-place finishes in the 157, 125 and 133-pound classes. Similarly to Ferrante, Bostelman and Bazan rebounded with five consecutive victories after a loss in their initial match.

In the 149-pound division, Cartella finished fifth with redshirt sophomore Aiden Vandenbush in sixth.

Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational

Unlike last year’s 10th-place finish, the Wildcats had a much quieter outing this time around. They gathered 22 points to place 25th, while Iowa State, the champion, scored 130.5 points.

Trevor Chumbley stood out for Northwestern. The redshirt senior placed eighth in his season debut, after fininishing fifth the previous year. The 157-pounder lost his first bout but won the next four, which included beating three of FloWrestling’s ranked wrestlers.

Jessen, Bates, Ferrante, redshirt junior Maxx Mayfield and redshirt senior Troy Fisher also made it to the Round of 16.

Northwestern lost some of its strongest talent this season with Lucas Davison, Michael DeAugustino and Chris Cannon all transferring to Michigan. Especially as Davison finishied second in his division at the invitational, the Wildcats are reminded that this season is about building a foundation for the future. Nonetheless, NU will need solid outings from Chumbley to find any success this season, so his podium finish is refreshing.

Cleveland State Open

The ‘Cats scored five top-six finishes, highlighted by two fourth-place finishes from Cartella and redshirt first-year Joseph Martin. Cartella had three major decision victories before falling in his last bout in the 149-pound division. For the 174-pound class, Martin’s four victories included two bonus point ones via technical falls.

Ferrante and redshirt senior Jon Halvorsen found fifth place in 174 and 184 pounds. Ferrante’s day was marked by three bonus point victories across his five wins, including two 15-0 wins.

McClain also clocked in at sixth in his class and notched his second pinfall victory.

Looking Ahead

Although the ‘Cats are not off to a dominant start, they have faired well for a team going through change. Bostelman, McClain and Cartella have been bright spots, as the first-years have provide hop that will NU soon reclaim its success from recent years. In the meantime, Ferrante, Chumbley, Bates and Jessen have seemed to pick up where they left off and could be in for solid, veteran seasons.

Before 2024 can begin, Northwestern will open up the dual portion of its season against Northern Illinois on Tuesday and close out the year with the 59th Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.