Wildcats Climb Out Of 18-6 Hole Against Badgers (Wrestling)

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

Northwestern and Wisconsin entered Friday night’s dual meet sharing the No. 9 ranking. The match lived up to its close billing when NU escaped with a 19-18 victory.

By handing Wisconsin its first loss of the season, NU earned its first Big Ten win. The Wildcats pulled off the victory despite not wrestling with No. 1 141-pound Ryan Lang for the third straight weekend.

NU came back from an 18-6 deficit with four matches remaining in the dual, as Nick Hayes, Jake Herbert, Mike Tamillow and Dustin Fox swept the heavyweight matches.

But what may have been more significant than the performance of the reliable heavyweights were the contributions of the two smallest and youngest wrestlers in the lineup, true freshman 125-pound Brandon Precin and redshirt freshman 133-pound Eric Metzler.

Precin defeated the Badgers’ Collin Cudd 3-2 in overtime while Metzler won in a tight 3-1 match over Zach Tanelli.

“(Precin and Metzler’s wins were) huge,” coach Tim Cysewski said. “They come off of two losses last weekend which we needed to have to win those two duals (against Illinois and Iowa) and we came up a little short. Today we came up big. Those were really big and really helped the team push through, especially with Lang not in the lineup.”

Precin’s low-scoring match was particularly intense, as he tied Cudd at 2-2 with just 10 seconds left in regulation.

The true freshman proceeded to wrestle like a seasoned veteran in overtime, coolly scoring the only point awarded in the period.

“I get more excited for overtime,” Precin said. “I feel I thrive – I know I’ve worked up this point and I’ve been in this situation before, and it doesn’t bother me.”

The other wrestler providing heroics for the Cats came at the opposite end of the lineup.

Down 18-16 going into the final match of the dual, No. 4 heavyweight Fox had to beat Kyle Massey for NU to win. He delivered with another close 3-2 decision.

While the pressure of having the outcome of the match on his two big shoulders may seem daunting, Fox is used to the added intensity that comes with being a heavyweight.

“You try to keep it consistent; you’ve always got to prepare the same way, I guess,” Fox said. “It’s just another match. When you get all wrapped up about it you choke. You just focus on your own match and what you can do and that’s all you can do.

“(I knew it would come down to my match) when Hayes won. Jake and Tamillow are anchors … we’re top heavy. You kind of know and expect a win, and it happened.”

The win gives the Cats some momentum heading into the middle of their brutal Big Ten schedule. Currently eight Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 20, including four in the top 10.

“That’s a good victory for us,” Cysewski said. “And the Big Ten competition – it just shows, anybody can beat anybody, so you’ve just got to be ready.”

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]