Wrestling: Wildcats finish Big Ten season on high note, throttle Hoosiers

Rohan Nadkarni, Sports Editor

After a mostly down conference season, Northwestern finished on an upswing.

Taking on Indiana, the Wildcats (9-8, 2-6 Big Ten) emerged victorious in large fashion on Saturday, winning their final dual of the season 32-6. The Hoosiers (9-10, 0-8) failed to pick up a Big Ten win in their last chance to do so. NU won its first conference dual since a win at Michigan State on Jan. 25.

The Cats only dropped two of ten bouts en route to the win, but the night started poorly when true freshman Dominick Malone lost 6-4 to Indiana’s Joe Duca at 125 pounds. From there, NU would win the next six contests and eight of the last nine. The dual brought three matchups between ranked wrestlers, and the Cats defeated the Hoosiers in all three instances.

Redshirt senior No. 2 Jason Welch posted the most impressive victory of the night in the final dual of his career. The two-time All-American, who will compete for Big Ten and NCAA Championships before leaving NU, sent a message to his weight class with a 13-1 dismantling of Indiana’s No. 12 Taylor Walsh at 157 pounds.

Welch led 6-0 after the first period and 10-1 after the second, only surrendering an escape point. Welch finished his dual career with a 62-5 record, after posting a 26-1 mark this season.

Redshirt sophomore No. 18 Pierce Harger also scored a minor upset by knocking off No. 15 Ryan LeBlanc 4-2 in a closely contested battle at 165 pounds. In the last bout between ranked wrestlers, No. 8 Mike McMullan finished his injury-marred dual season with a 6-2 win against No. 14 Adam Chalfant at heavyweight.

The Cats’ attention will now turn from dual season to tournament play. The only events left on NU’s schedule are the Big Ten and NCAA Championships, starting with the conference tournament on March 9 hosted by in-state conference member Illinois. The NCAA Championships will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, beginning March 21.