Freshman A Surprise In Breakout Showing (Wrestling)

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

For four Wildcat wrestlers, success at Eastern Michigan was expected. For a fifth, the tournament represented a surprise coming out party.

The No. 10 Cats began the road to national spotlight this weekend, wrestling in their first tournament of the year at Eastern Michigan. Four wrestlers came away from the tournament with individual championships: Ryan Lang, Jake Herbert, Dustin Fox and Mike Tamillow.

Lang helped justify his preseason No. 1 ranking by being the most dominant of the bunch, not yielding a single point en route to a 5-0 record in the 141 lbs. weight class.

The Cats’ other top-ranked wrestler, Herbert, pinned all of his opponents until the finals, where he defeated Ty Todd of Michigan for the 184 lbs title in a 6-3 decision.

Tamillow, ranked No. 14 nationally and seeded second in the tournament, knocked off Big Ten-rival Nate Moore of Purdue to win the title. Moore entered the match as the top seed in the 197 lbs. weight class and ranked No. 9 nationally.

Northwestern’s fourth champion, Fox, earned the first title of his career at the heavyweight division. He, too, finished the tournament undefeated at 5-0, but with some close matches, including the championship match he won in a thirty-second overtime.

“It’s always exciting to win a tournament and be in a championship match, but I don’t think I’m a stranger to it because of my experiences in high school,” Fox said.

Despite the win, Fox stressed he still has plenty to work on.

“I need to score more points. All my matches were really close. Some of it had to do with the setting – we were in a small high school on small mats so it was hard to score. But we all have things that we need to improve on, me especially.”

But the most impressive showing in the tournament was that of true freshman Brandon Precin, who entered the weekend

unseeded.

Precin knocked off top seed Mark Moos of Michigan, who was ranked fourth nationally and is a three-time qualifier at 133 lbs – he moved down a weight class this year to 125 lbs.

“Brandon really impressed me” Fox said. “He’s a fierce competitor and he wrestles hard. It’s really good to see a true freshman go out there and do some damage because when I was a freshman I did that, too.”

Still, as a freshman, Precin had some

adjustments to make.

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I was just excited coming into my first tournament,” Precin said. “In college there’s no room for

error. A lot of my opponents will work off of mistakes, so you have to be perfect.

“I made a few mistakes and I’m learning off of them, but overall I think I did well.”

Precin said he hopes to qualify for the NCAA tournament, joining the list of wrestlers looking to make noise nationally.

Still, despite the team’s success at Eastern Michigan, the Cats are not satisfied.

“We had four champions,” Fox said. “We could have 10.”

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]