Grappling for dominance (Wrestling)

Becky Plevin

Winning a wrestling match, Northwestern coach Tim Cysewski said, is right up there with life and death.

“You judge your existence based on how you did each week,” Cysewski said.

As the NU wrestling team approaches its season opener, the prospects for survival look promising. And according to Cysewski, the fates of sophomore Matt Delguyd and junior Mike Kimberlin are particularly positive.

Delguyd (197 pounds) won 20 of 22 matches last year, the third most on the team and he said knows what he needs to do to improve.

“I need to be a little more aggressive on my feet and put the match a little more to my opponent,” Delguyd said.

Cysewski is confident Delguyd will continue to improve from his freshman season.

“He won 20 last year and should double that this year,” Cysewksi said. “But I don’t know if we wrestle 40 times.”

With a 24-17 record last year, Kimberlin has demonstrated both skill and confidence, attributes that will make him a formidable opponent in the Big Ten’s 157-pound weight class.

“He is the most talented athlete on the team,” Cysewski said of Kimberlin.

Kimberlin has high hopes for the season.

“I want to be All-American and a Big Ten and NCAA Champion,” Kimberlin said. “I want to stick with my game plan — if I wrestle the way I want to wrestle, people can’t beat me.”

Cysewski said that while the lineup is not set yet, he has a good idea of who will be competing at each weight class.

Junior John Velez (125 pounds), will likely start, as well as senior Josh Ballard (149 pounds), senior Andy Curran (174 pounds) and sophomore Joseph Gulotta (184 pounds).

In other weight classes, it will be a little trickier to pick the starters.

At 133 pounds, the team’s deepest weight class, junior Tommy Vargas is being challenged by sophomore Dan Quintela and freshman Jarred Mercado. For the 141-pound spot, the battle between senior Paul Augle and sophomore Jimmy Kim will be determined by whoever wants to start the most, Cyzewski said.

And for the heavyweight spot, senior Mike Little and junior Scott Johnson, who both weren’t able to compete last season, would both be a powerful addition.

With talented returning starters and the seventh-best recruiting class in the nation, the Wildcats enter competition in the best wrestling conference in the country with an “I will survive” outlook.

“We have lots of maturity, a lot of young kids and a lot of enthusiasm,” Cysewski said. “They can’t wait to get their hooks in somebody else without working out with teammates.”