Wrestling: NU snags first Columbus win in 13 years

Josh Walfish

Drew Pariano said he wanted to make sure Northwestern sent a message to the Big Ten in its dual against Ohio State.

The coach accomplished his mission as the No. 14 Wildcats (18-2, 6-2 Big Ten) ran over the Buckeyes (2-11, 1-7) 27-13 in Columbus on Saturday. It was NU’s first victory in Columbus since 1998.

“You just want to set the groundwork for Big Tens,” Pariano said. “It was a dominating win and having a lopsided score on the scoreboard really helps the team.”

The dual started with the 184-pound division, in which senior Aaron Jones was unable to overcome three Ohio State takedowns, losing 7-4. Redshirt junior John Schoen lost a tough 2-1 decision at 197 pounds, losing on the point given for riding time advantage. The two victories gave the Buckeyes the early 6-0 lead.

But the Cats did not let the early deficit faze them as redshirt junior Ben Kuhar and redshirt senior Brandon Precin both picked up victories to erase the Buckeye lead.

“It might have worked to their advantage early on,” Pariano said. “But Ben did a great job at righting the ship.”

Kuhar won his heavyweight match with relative ease, picking up an escape in the second period and three points for nearly pinning his opponent in the third, cruising to a 6-0 victory. Pariano said Kuhar actually had the pin and that he had “never seen a human more pinned in (his) life.” Kuhar said he agreed with Pariano, but understood that he could not let the non-call affect him.

“I think that I had him pinned a couple of times,” Kuhar said. “But you got to finish the match no matter what.”

But the pins were just starting for the Cats as Precin (125) got off to a quick start in his match, leading 8-0 after the first three minutes. A takedown to start the second period eventually led to Precin pinning Bo Touris 40 seconds later, giving the Cats a 9-6 lead.

The pins did not stop with Precin. Levi Mele was able to pin Jacob Vaughn with 40 seconds left in his match. The sophomore 133-pounder got a takedown late in the first period to get his engine going. After scoring an escape and takedown in the second period, Mele started the third in the top position. After working on Vaughn for over a minute, Mele was finally able to secure the pin to increase the NU lead to 15-6.

At the 141-pound division, Kaleb Friedley continued a remarkable freshman season, scoring a 11-0 major decision. Friedley dominated the first and third periods, scoring a takedown and three near fall points in each. Andrew Nadhir was able to keep the Cats momentum rolling by notching 15-7 major decision at 149 pounds. The redshirt senior was able to score three takedowns in the first period to lead 6-2. Nadhir tacked on three more takedowns and two escapes in the last two periods to score the bonus points for NU.

“I wasn’t happy with the way I wrestled,” Friedley said. “I quit attacking a little bit in the second period. I know I can wrestle better than that.”

Redshirt sophomore Jason Welch scored the Cats’ third-straight major decision by beating Sean Nemec at 157 pounds, 8-0. Welch picked up three takedowns in the match and scored an escape in the second period as well as a point for his nearly three minutes of riding time.

In the 165-pound bout, sophomore Kevin Bialka was unable to slow down No. 8 Colt Sponseller, losing 13-5. Bialka was unable to score a takedown the entire seven minutes, mustering only five escapes in the match. On the other hand, Sponseller scored six takedowns in his victory and was in the offensive position for almost half the match.

At 174 pounds, Brian Roddy was unable to muster up any offense, losing 7-4 to No. 14 Nick Heflin. Heflin jumped out to an early lead with two first period takedowns, but Roddy was able to counter by getting two escapes during the period. Trailing 5-2 heading into the third period, Roddy was able to get a quick escape, but unable to score the tying takedown, eventually being taken down himself by Heflin in the dying seconds.

“We just need to get to (Heflin’s) legs and we feel as though Brian can do that,” Pariano said.

NU will now get a two week break before the Big Ten Wrestling Championships come to Welsh-Ryan Arena on March 5 and 6.

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