Wrestling: Northwestern starts season with two dominating victories


Susan Du/Daily Senior Staffer

Junior Alex Polizzi takes down Jeffrey Tyburski in Northwestern’s clean sweep of Chicago on Saturday. Polizzi sealed off the match with a win by major decision and kept the Wildcats perfect in their opening match.

Josh Walfish, Reporter

Northwestern took care of business to begin its 2013-14 campaign.

The Wildcats were missing their returning national runner-up Mike McMullan, but that didn’t stop the team from cruising to a 38-0 win over the University of Chicago and a 38-6 victory over Stevens Tech. The only two matches NU didn’t win Saturday were a double forfeit at 184 pounds against the Maroons and a forfeit at McMullan’s heavyweight spot against the Ducks.

“The results were very favorable,” said coach Drew Pariano, who was with McMullan at the NWCA All-Star Classic and not at the duel. “You expect dominating results and that’s what we got.”

The first duels of the season provided some interesting lineup changes from last year. Sophomores Dominick Malone and Garrison White switched weight classes, with Malone going from 125 pounds to 133 pounds and White dropping from 133 to 125. Junior Pierce Harger jumped up a weight class to 174 pounds, replacing classmate Lee Munster, who was out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.

NU opened Saturday’s festivities with a dominating rout of Chicago as seven matches ended in bonus points for the Cats. It was a quick start for NU with two technical falls in the first four bouts, one from White and one from redshirt freshman Jason Tsirtsis. Tsirtsis was one of two Cats wrestlers making their first career starts; the other, redshirt freshman Ben Sullivan, earned a hard-fought 6-0 win in his debut at 165 pounds against the Maroons.

“Jason’s a very slick wrestler and he’s well-polished and as long as he continues to progress he’ll be great,” Pariano said. “As for Sullivan, it was nice to get him out there. We have a lot of great options at 157 … so it’s definitely our deepest weight class. ”

There were three interesting matches in the back half of the lineup that proved to be the might of NU’s lineup. There was a double forfeit at 184 pounds because Chicago could not field a wrestler at that weight. The forfeit forced sophomore Jacob Berkowitz and junior Alex Polizzi to step up a weight class and both handled the jump well, earning decisive wins for the Cats.

“Jacob has a lot of skill,” Pariano said. “He got thrown into the fire last year, but he has a ton of skill and he just needs to believe in his abilities. … Alex is the strongest athlete at Northwestern, so I think he can handle the challenge.”

The afternoon ended with another impressive performance from the Cats on the mat. NU won seven more matches with bonus points including two second-period pins in the win over Stevens Tech. Malone got the first pin of the duel, pinning his opponent at 133 pounds just 28 seconds into the second period. Polizzi dropped back down to 197 pounds against the Ducks and picked up the fall about halfway through the second period.

On the East Coast, McMullan took on Minnesota’s Tony Nelson at the NWCA All-Star Classic in Fairfax, Va. The redshirt junior lost 2-1 in double overtime in a tightly contested bout between the two national finalists from a year ago.

“Bad news for Minnesota, we have an awesome strategy now,” Pariano said. “He is the best pure heavyweight in the country and he actually wrestles like it. He’s doing a great job and he’s only going to get better as the season goes along.”

NU resumes its season Friday with another doubleheader, this one in Denver against Air Force and Northern Colorado.

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