Herbert Promising To Leave No Doubts (Wrestling)

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

Returning All-American Jake Herbert’s goals for the wrestling team this year are simple: “Be at least in top four at nationals, get three or four kids in the national finals, and have five or six All-Americans,” Herbert said.

Such goals, echoed by Northwestern coach Tim Cysewski, may not be so lofty considering the amount of talent present on the team. The Wildcats are ranked in the top 10 nationally in preseason polls after finishing 13th nationally last year. They have four wrestlers ranked in the top 15 in their respective weight classes, including Herbert and Ryan Lang, who are ranked atop their weight classes, and Dustin Fox, who is ranked in the top five amongst heavyweights.

“It’s nice that we’re noticed,” Cysewski said, of the high preseason rankings. “The guys who are ranked high like Herbert, Lang and Fox, they’ve all been in the limelight – and they like to be there and they perform even better.”

Despite not having a single senior in the starting lineup, the Cats return plenty of experience – both Herbert and Lang have experienced the pressure that comes with being an All-American and several team members have wrestled on big stages at national competitions.

While the team has substantial depth, much of the focus in the preseason has been on Mike Tamillow, Fox, Lang and Herbert. Both Lang and Herbert were invited to the NWCA All-Star Classic, which pits the No. 1 and No. 2 wrestlers in each weight class against each other; this year marks the first that two Northwestern wrestlers have been invited to the classic in the same year.

More than any other individual, Herbert comes into the year with high expectations and pressure as the defending Big Ten champion and national runner-up. However, he said he will not settle for another second-place finish.

“I want to dominate every match, not even come close to losing. Now I’m the one that everybody is shooting to beat, so it just makes you work that much harder,” Herbert said. “I don’t want anybody to be able to say ‘I only lost by one point to the kid who’s ranked No. 1 in the nation.'”

Fox, too, has national championship dreams. “Nobody wants to be No. 2, so the goal is to be a national champion,” he said.

To help Fox, Lang, Herbert and the rest of the team reach their lofty goals, Cysewski added Bill Scherr, a former Olympic Bronze Medalist and World Champion, and Ryan Bertin, a two-time national champion at Michigan. Such credentials earn the coaches instant respect among the team.

“The new coaches aren’t really new because they’ve been around the program, but it’s nice to have them on staff officially,” Herbert said. “Scherr and Bertin are great to have, because they can actually come in the room and throw me around a little bit.”

Still, being thrown around is not something anybody in the program expects to happen any time soon – something Herbert and the Cats hope to prove when they travel to Eastern Michigan on Saturday.

“I want to beat the heck out of everyone,” Herbert said.

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]