Wildcats Fall To 1-4 In The Big Ten (Wrestling)

Wade Askew

By Wade AskewThe Daily Northwestern

Wrestling without No. 1 Ryan Lang for the fourth straight week, No. 10 Northwestern fell to No. 12 Penn State and Ohio State to drop their Big Ten record to 1-4.

The Wildcats expect to have Lang back in the lineup Friday against Indiana, but his presence was sorely missed in the two weekend duals.

“When you have one of your better kids not in the lineup, it makes the other guys do more and try to make up for it,” coach Tim Cysewski said. “And they press a little more – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

NU fell 25-8 to Penn State, dropping several close matches along the way. In particular, three of the Cats’ most dependable wrestlers lost in highly competitive matches.

First, No. 15 174-pounder Nick Hayes lost to No. 7 James Yonushonis 3-1. Hayes led 1-0 going into the third and final period, but Yonushonis scored an escape and takedown to take the tight match.

After a Jake Herbert victory at 184 pounds, second-ranked Mike Tamillow fell 8-2 against third-ranked Phil Davis in the most anticipated match of the day at 197 pounds. No. 4 heavyweight Dustin Fox later lost in an upset to No. 13 Aaron Anspatch 5-2.

“I just felt like – I can’t say that Penn State wanted it more than us – but they just had the better day, ” Herbert said. “They finished the matches better, they got the calls going their way, they had their points going, and they were more aggressive, and that’s what got it.”

Ohio State upset NU just two days later 18-16. The Cats led going into the final match of the dual, 16-15, which featured 141-pounders James Kohlberg and J Jaggers.

Kohlberg, wrestling in place of Lang, lost the match 7-5, giving Ohio State the victory.

“Internally it’s incredibly painful that I can’t stand to even be there in person,” Lang said, of being unable to wrestle. “But I like supporting my team.

“It’s very minimal (what I can do to help). Mental support for these guys to go out – I try to think about how I might feel or what’s going on and observe and help them that way.”

Still, the weekend was not without its highlights for NU. In the marquee matchup of the Ohio State meet, Herbert defeated No. 3 Mike Pucillo 11-5. Pucillo kept the match close for the first two periods and entered the third down just 4-3.

It was one of the few tests this season for Herbert, who improved to 21-0 on the year.

“I just got ready for a good match,” Herbert said. “I knew he was going to be tough and it was only 4-3 going into the third period – he had a chance. He had some shots he couldn’t finish, and he’s a tough, good wrestler.

“I was joking around saying that maybe all this training is actually going to pay off now that I’ve got somebody who’s actually going to come at me and wrestle.”

Freshman sensation Brandon Precin continued to impress as he went 2-0 over the weekend – the only NU wrestler to do so other than the top-ranked Herbert. One of those victories came over Penn State’s seventh-ranked Mark McKnight in a 7-3 upset.

Going into the weekend, Precin was unranked among 125-pounders, but he figures to have earned consideration with his latest victories.

“I would definitely like to (be ranked) as a sense of confirmation as to where I’m headed,” Precin said. “It would definitely be nice to see where I’m at.”

Despite personal success, Precin wished he could have done more to earn team victories.

“I was proud of the way I wrestled but I felt bad because the team obviously didn’t do as well,” Precin said. “I felt that if I would’ve done just a little bit more we might have been able to get the win.”

Reach Wade Askew at [email protected]