Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Wrestling: An Olympic-sized task

In the aftermath of his NCAA championship at 184 pounds last winter, Jake Herbert took an Olympic redshirt year to train for the Beijing games this summer, removing one of the top wrestlers in the country from Northwestern’s lineup. But so far this season, Herbert’s absence has not slowed the No. 9 Wildcats, nor given them any ill will toward their departed teammate.

“Obviously we miss him,” senior heavyweight Dustin Fox said. “But he’s out doing what he needs to do, and you can’t hold that against him. He’s trying to be an Olympian and follow his dreams.”

With the four remaining seniors sharing the leadership responsibility and each individual trying to step up, the team is set for another strong season. But there is still a presence missing in both the locker room and on the mats.

“He was the leader of the team and he’s always been a good role model for everybody,” junior Marty Gould said. “There is a large void to fill because whenever he’s in the room he raises the intensity.”

A silver lining in Herbert’s absence is the motivation it gives the rest of the team to fill his large shoes.

Currently Fox is ranked No. 1 in his weight class, and the team has three other wrestlers ranked in the top five in their weight classes.

“I think everyone on the team understands what Jake is doing and understands that it presents a team challenge too,” coach Tim Cysewski said. “It makes the other kids step up and take his place – although it may take two guys to do it – but it’s been happening all year and it’s been great.”

The on-mat contributions of Fox and fellow top-15 seniors Mike Tamillow, Ryan Lang and Nick Hayes have kept the team performing well and gaining national attention as it prepares for the prestigious NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals this weekend in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

While the seniors have been able to share the leadership load, sophomores Brandon Precin (125 pounds) and Dominic Marella (157 pounds) have contributed by raising their performances.

“Precin was good last year as a true freshman, but he’s been lights-out this year,” Cysewski said. “Dominic has really been stepping up this year. He didn’t have a very good season last year, but he’s been fantastic. These guys add to our overall team strength.”

All of these individual contributions are helping to make the team even better with its Big Ten schedule approaching.

“Wrestling is different than most sports since it is so individual,” Fox said. “But chances are that if you work on something individually, it will have a positive effect on the team.”

That positive effect has Cysewski thinking ahead to getting Herbert back in the lineup again and what that will mean to the Cats after this season.

“We’ve got a lot of good recruits coming in, and Jake will be an elder-statesman potentially coming off an Olympic gold medal win.”

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Wrestling: An Olympic-sized task