Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, Lucas Davison kept the Northwestern wrestling brand strong with a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Championships.
Nine Wildcats qualified for the Tournament, making for 19 qualifiers over the past two years— the most in Northwestern history. Of the wrestlers, Davison and Yahya Thomas worked their way to the quarterfinals.
In the first two championship rounds, Davison beat his opponents 6-1 and 2-1 to advance to the quarterfinals. There, the No. 9-ranked wrestler for the 285-pound class fell to No. 1 Mason Parris in a major decision victory of 10-1. The Michigan wrestler went on to claim the title, as Davison made his way to the consolation bracket.
In the first consolation round, Davison squared up against No. 6 Yaraslay Slavikouski of Harvard and won in sudden victory, 4-2. With the match win, Davison became a two-time All-American. His first honors came last season, where he finished sixth at nationals. Three other NU wrestlers also earned All-American honors last season; however, this year, Davison was the only Wildcat to walk away with such a distinction.
Following the bout, Davison added another upset with a sudden victory decision over No. 5 Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State.
The next day in the consolation semifinals, the heavyweight lost in a fall to No. 2 Wyatt Hendrickson. The Air Force wrestler ended the tournament with a podium finish in third place. As for Davison, he returned to the mats later that night and won in a 4-3 decision to secure a fifth-place finish — a career-best. It was also the best finish for a Northwestern heavyweight since 2015, when four-time All-American Mike McMullan placed third.
The big fella closed it out.#GoCats | @LucasDavison pic.twitter.com/Jkn00uW6XM— Northwestern Wrestling (@NUWrestle) March 18, 2023
Thomas won the first two rounds with a major decision of 12-3 and a sudden victory. In the quarterfinals, the No. 7 fell to the No. 2 seed — Ohio State’s Sammy Sasso — who went on to finish second in the 149-pound division. Thomas’s day ended in the first consolation round with a loss to No. 4 Caleb Henson. The Virginia Tech wrestler also went on to place in the Tournament, finishing fifth.
The graduate student wrestled for five years at Northwestern. Over this span, he qualified for the NCAAs three times, and in the 2021-2022 season, he earned All-American honors and a third-place national finish. As a member of this team since 2017, the Chicago native has seen Northwestern greats like Sebastian Rivera and Ryan Deakin and has stuck with Matt Storniolo through the pandemic and beyond. Witnessing the program rise from a 24th-place finish in his first season to a sixth-place finish last season, Thomas is a pinnacle member of Northwestern wrestling.
Also wrestling in the NCAA were Michael DeAugustino, Chris Cannon, Frankie Tal-Shahar, Trevor Chumbley, Troy Fisher, Andrew Davison and Maxx Mayfield. Tal-Shahar, Chumbley and Fisher advanced to the third round of the consolation bracket; meanwhile, DeAugustino, Cannon and Davison made it to the second round.
The ‘Cats finished 25th in the Tournament, after going 5-3 in the Big Ten and 7-3 overall. Northwestern’s 24.5 points at nationals pale in comparison to Penn State’s 137.5 points that clinched the title. This is Northwestern’s lowest finish since the 2016-2017 season, but considering that Storniolo’s squad had nine qualifiers — the second most among Big Ten teams — after a seventh-place finish at the Big Ten Championship, Northwestern Wrestling is in a promising position.