The Rundown

Daily Sports staff

Need something to do this weekend? Daily Sports can help.

$214 will get you a roundtrip flight to Louisville, Ky., to watch men’s tennis. $411 will get you to Dallas, where the men’s swim team is bivouacked. And while in the state, drive 239 miles south to Houston and you’ll join the the fencing team as it parries and thrusts in the city of injured giants (Yao and McGrady).

If Texas isn’t your thing, there’re the heavenly cornfields of Iowa, where the wrestling team will participate in the esteemed NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals.

Looking for something more exotic? Go West, where women’s tennis is competing in Indian Wells, Calif.

And we can never forget the hardcourt ballers: men’s basketball in Wisconsin on Saturday, and women’s basketball home against Iowa on Sunday.

Or, of course, you can just kick back and read the Daily’s preview of the seven sports in action. You could probably use the free time for schoolwork.

Wrestling

With the Big Ten schedule just around the corner, the wrestling team have will have a chance to tune up against stiff competition at this weekend’s NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

It is the first time in program history that the Wildcats have been invited to participate in the prestigious tournament. Fifteen of the 16 squads in the Division I bracket, including No. 13 Northwestern, are ranked in the nation’s top 25. No. 1 Oklahoma State will participate, as will seven other teams in the top 10.

“It’s one of those honors you want to take advantage of,” coach Tim Cysewski said.

In the first round, NU will face No. 8 Iowa State. The Cats have seven ranked wrestlers to the Cyclones’ four. NU is seeded 10th, and a victory would set up a matchup against either Hofstra or No. 2 Minnesota.

NU sophomore Ryan Lang, ranked sixth at 141 pounds, is returning to action after missing two matches due to injury. He will be thrown into the fire against No. 2 Nate Gallick, who is 19-0 this season. Gallick is 2-0 against Lang.

Tenth-ranked sophomore Mike Tamillow will return to face No. 9 Kurt Backes. Tamillow, who started the season 13-1 before missing one match due to injury, will try to avenge a loss to Backes in the only previous meeting between them at the 2004 Midlands Tournament.

Sophomore Jake Herbert, undefeated this season and ranked second at 174 pounds, will try to extend his 23-match winning streak against unranked David Bertolino.

Cysewski sees the tournament as a way to measure his team against the best in the nation.

“I think our No. 1 guys match up well with everyone else’s,” Cysewski said. “It’s just a matter of us going out there with the right attitude.”

– Andrew Simon

Men’s swimming

The men’s swimming team heads to Dallas this weekend for the Dallas Morning News Swimming and Diving Classic.

The 17th-ranked Cats will face a field that includes three other ranked teams: No. 7 Florida, No. 14 Florida State and No. 19 Notre Dame. They will be joined by Washington and host school Southern Methodist University.

The highlight of the meet may come on the first night, when NU junior Matt Grevers takes on Florida’s Ryan Lochte in a rematch of last year’s NCAA 100-meter backstroke final. Grevers edged out Lochte for the crown in 2005, but Lochte, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist in the 800-meter freestyle, has the season’s top times in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes.

Friday’s race will be the second meeting of the winter for Grevers and Lochte. The Florida senior beat Grevers in the 200 backstroke at the Purdue Invitational on Nov. 20, an event that they’ll race again Saturday night.

The Classic will be NU’s first meet of 2006, as the squad returns to the pool after a nearly six-week layoff. The Cats spent the break in Evanston training for the season’s final tune-ups before the Big Ten Championships in February.

Not to say the month was typical for all team members. Junior Mike Alexandrov was in Trieste, Italy from Dec. 8-11 to compete at the European Short Course Championships. Alexandrov, a 2004 Olympian for his native Bulgaria, raced against Europe’s best in the 200-meter breast and the 400-meter individual medley. He made the finals in each event, placing fifth in the 200 breast and sixth in the 400 IM.

– Ben Larrison

Fencing

Individual fencers will compete in the USFA North America Cup in Houston from today through Jan. 16. The team is relaxed about the tournament and will use the event as preparation for future dual meets.

“I’m less concerned with the results than how they fence and gain experience against the top fencers,” coach Laurie Schiller said. “For us, this is the (warm-up) before the next tournament, which is the real stuff that counts.”

Because the North America Cup is not a duals event where teams compete against one another, it won’t count towards the NU’s final team record. The team’s next duals meet is the Penn Duals on Jan. 21.

This weekend’s tournament holds more significance for some fencers than others. Freshman Adrienne Shon has one last chance to qualify for the Junior Olympics in Hartford, Conn., on Feb. 17-20. Shon attempted to qualify in last weekend’s Illinois Junior Olympic Qualifier in Patten Gym but was unsuccessful. If Shon places in the top 32, she will be eligible.

“At this point I have nothing to lose,” Shon said. “I think I have a pretty good chance. It’ll be close, and what I need to do is fence every touch like it’s my last.”

– Annie Martin

Women’s tennis

The women’s tennis team won its seventh straight conference championship last year and posted a 26-3 record, the best in school history.

But all that came for naught as the fifth-ranked Cats lost to No. 12 Clemson in the third round of the NCAA Tournament, the fifth time in the last seven years the Cats had lost at that point in the tourney.

Now, after shaking off the effects of the Clemson loss – and the loss of last year’s No. 1 singles player, Audra Cohen, to Miami (Fla.) – NU sets its sights on its first action in over two months. The team will be in Indian Wells, Calif. this weekend to compete in the National Collegiate Tennis Championships.

The Cats last played on Nov. 6, when senior Cristelle Grier and junior Alexis Prousis won the consolation bracket of the doubles tournament at the ITA National Indoor Championships in Columbus, Ohio.

The team of Grier and Prousis posted a 9-1 record during the fall season.

Grier, who is in her fourth year playing in one of the Cats’ top two singles spots, also advanced to the quarterfinals of the singles bracket and had a 10-4 singles record for the fall.

– David Morrison

Men’s tennis

Today marks the men’s tennis team’s first road test of the season, as it faces No. 33 Louisville.

The Cardinals, last year’s Conference USA runner-up and an NCAA Tournament team in 2004 and 2005, are playing in their first match of 2006. The Cats started the year with a 7-0 win over the University of Illinois-Chicago on Jan. 8.

NU will then travel to Muncie, Ind., on Sunday to take on Ball State. Last season, the Cardinals swept the MAC regular season and tournament titles while making the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in school history.

– B.L.