NU attempts to shake off rust against in-state rival (Wrestling)

Andrew Simon

After battling some of the top teams in the country and scrambling to a 10th-place finish at last week’s Midlands Tournament in Evanston, the Wildcats, ranked No. 13 in the nation, will travel to Charleston, Ill. Sunday to take on Eastern Illinois, a team that has offered little resistance against Northwestern in recent years.

NU routed the Panthers 37-3 two years ago and took care of business again last season by the score of 41-3, but coach Tim Cysewski said he doesn’t want his team to overlook the Panthers this weekend.

“We’ve got to keep the intensity up because we don’t want to compromise ourselves in any way,” Cysewski said. “Any time you play an in-state school, they’re going to be ready for you.”

And with the Big Ten schedule fast approaching, Cysewski is looking to get the Cats on track.

“It’s all about going out and getting the rust off,” Cysewski said. “We have to get our timing back and work out on a consistent basis.”

This season, Eastern Illinois is 1-1 in dual matches. It opened up with a 36-3 loss to No. 15 Indiana on Dec. 10, but then defeated Gardner-Webb 24-19 later that day.

The most anticipated battle of the match on Sunday will be at 174 lbs. between NU sophomore Jake Herbert and Panthers junior Kenny Robertson, the squad’s top wrestler.

When the two met last season, Herbert prevailed by a narrow 5-4 margin.

“The kid’s real tough,” Herbert said. “I only beat him by one last year so he’s going to come back and bring me hell this year. I’ve got to catch him and beat him in all positions.”

Both wrestlers are on top of their games heading into the matchup. Herbert is coming off a first place finish at Midlands, where he was named the tournament’s Champion of Champions. Robertson, ranked 11th in the weight class, placed eighth at Midlands after scoring a pin and a 4-1 victory in the Panthers’ two dual matches.

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