Wrestling: Wildcats drop two in D.C.

Northwestern wrestlers Jason Welch and Mike McMullan both dropped their weekend bouts at the end of the NWCA All-Star Classic in Washington, D.C.

Daily file photo by Ben Breuner

Northwestern wrestlers Jason Welch and Mike McMullan both dropped their weekend bouts at the end of the NWCA All-Star Classic in Washington, D.C.

Rohan Nadkarni, Assistant Sports Editor

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Northwestern just received its wake-up call for the regular season.

Redshirt senior Jason Welch and redshirt sophomore Mike McMullan both wrestled — and lost — Saturday at the National Coaches Wrestling Association All-Star Classic.

“It’s frustrating,” coach Drew Pariano said. “We were very active in our matches, but we need to be more productive with our attacks.”

Welch’s match was against one of his biggest rivals in the 157 pound weight class, Penn State’s Dylan Alton. Alton and Welch wrestled twice last season, setting the stage for a bigger clash this year.

Welch had the upper hand over Alton during the regular season, defeating him at a January dual in Evanston. But Alton ruined Welch’s season in the NCAA Championships.

“It’s a good rivalry,” Pariano said. “People in the crowd love watching them wrestle. We’re definitely going to see (Alton) again.”

On Saturday, Alton again slithered passed Welch. Alton struck first, picking up a point in the second period on an escape. Welch returned with an escape of his own to start the third, setting up an exciting finish.

But Alton’s takedown with 40 seconds left in the bout gave him an insurmountable 3-1 lead. Welch would score a late escape but ultimately fall 3-2.

McMullan’s bout at heavyweight featured the last two third-place finishers at the NCAA Championships. He faced Missouri’s Dom Bradley, who took an Olympic redshirt last season.

Bradley also scored a 3-2 victory. In the event’s last match, Bradley and McMullan dueled after a scoreless first period. Bradley struck first in the second period, scoring a takedown on McMullan to take a 2-0 lead. The two would trade points as the bout continued, but Bradley held on for the win.

Bradley could serve as a thorn in McMullan’s side in the future. McMullan, an All-American, enters the season as the fifth seed in his weight class. But Bradley, still strong on the collegiate level, will enter the year ranked second.

“All our mistakes are correctable,” Pariano said. “One thing we took away was that we are in good shape. But the technical things must be worked on and that’s something we do throughout the season in wrestling.”

The Cats still have time to rebound from the exhibition event. Dual play in the regular season begins on Nov. 9 when NU travels west to take on Stanford, who lost in Evanston last year. The first Big Ten dual of the season for NU will come Dec. 7 against Minnesota.

“It’s a learning experience,” Pariano said. “But nobody likes the short end of the stick. Whether it’s now, during the season or over the summer, we never want to lose.”