Wrestling: Wildcats win wild in west

Rohan Nadkarni, Assistant Sports Editor

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For Northwestern this season, nothing may come close to the golden coast.

The Wildcats throttled the Cardinal on Friday, bringing it to Stanford in the Cardinal’s home gym. NU also defeated Stanford last season at Marist High School in Chicago.

The dual served as a welcome start for the Cats’ five top-15 wrestlers, each of whom won their own bout. In fact, NU almost swept the entire event, not losing until the final bout, when freshman Dominick Malone lost via fall in the third period of a close 1-1 contest.

“We were ready,” coach Drew Pariano said. “We didn’t have to tell our guys to be ready. Our guys got the job done.”

Redshirt senior Levi Mele set the tone for the entire night with his match at 133 pounds. The eighth-ranked Mele, who moved up a weight class from 125 pounds going into this season, dominated his opponent to the tune of a 17-2 technical fall. Mele started quickly, racking up seven points in the first period alone.

“That’s what we want to do all year,” Mele said. “We want to get started hard and finish hard, that kind of intensity. (There’s) no better way to start the season off and then carry that momentum all year.”

All-American redshirt senior Jason Welch continued his torrid pace in regular season duals. After winning every single dual bout until the Big Ten Tournament last year, Welch, ranked third this season, emerged victorious again in Stanford, Calif., soundly defeating Garrett Schaner 8-2. Welch grew up in Walnut Creek, about an hour away from Friday’s dual, and much of his family attended the event.

No. 10 Lee Munster also scored a big win. He secured NU’s second technical fall by toppling Ryan Davies at 174 pounds. The two tech falls, along with one major decision victory, gave the Cats bonus points in three of the 10 bouts.

“We knew Levi was going to put up big points right off the bat,” Pariano said. “He and Munster in both of their matches were pretty close to getting falls. I’m really happy with their performance.”

Munster’s win also provided him with confidence moving forward.

“First time making weight and feeling good, actually being able to wrestle a whole match, that’s important to me,” Munster said. “It sets the pace for the rest of the season.”

Redshirt sophomore Pat Greco picked up one of NU’s bonus points wins, scoring a major decision over Josh Lauderdale at 141 pounds. Six of the Cats’ sophomores, including Greco, picked up a win at the dual.

No. 4 Mike McMullan, one of the six redshirt sophomores, piled up three takedowns in his first bout of the season, winning 6-3 against Dan Scherer.

Redshirt sophomore Pierce Harger, the last of NU’s ranked wrestlers at No. 15 in 165 pounds, put away Bret Baumbach  by the score of 11-4, fittingly improving his career dual record to 11-4 as well.

But the Cats did fail to complete the sweep during the last match. Malone, making his collegiate debut, fought evenly with Stanford’s Evan Silver, tying the contest seconds into the third period. Silver eventually pinned the rookie, handing the Cardinal their only six points of the night.

Although the big win gives NU a fast start in dual play, its next such match does not arrive until Dec. 7 against Minnesota, with a tournament and two-dual night in between.

“We’re happy with our shape,” Pariano said. “But next week’s a new week. We’re going to go into it with the exact same mindset — go in and dominate.”