Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Wrestling: Northwestern buckles up to three-peat at Keystone Classic

No. 18 Northwestern (4-1, 0-1 Big Ten) will hit the East Coast this weekend as a participant in the Keystone Classic. The all-day tournament at the Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa., will pit the Wildcats against only one other Big Ten competitor — the Hoosiers — along with 10 others from across the nation. This is NU’s fourth consecutive year competing in the event, and it achieved first-place finishes the last two times out. Last season, four team members won their weight class title.

“We had a good performance last year,” coach Drew Pariano said. “I made a bold prediction last year that we’d win the tournament by 50 points, and we won by 51. However, I think the field is much improved this year. … I’m not going to make any crazy prediction like that.”

With a tournament setting, the Keystone Classic presents challenges to every participant. Wrestlers do not find out their first opponent until 90 minutes before the match, and after that they find out their matches on the fly.

“It’s a nightmare,” junior Pierce Harger said. “It’s so variable with a tournament.”

Harger will have his hands full with potential matchups against Bloomsburg’s Josh Veltre and Rider’s Ramon Santiago. Veltre ranks No. 7 and Santiago stands at No. 13 in the 165-pound weight class, according to InterMat Wrestling.

Harger defeated both rivals last season en route to capturing gold at the 2012 Keystone Classic at 165 pounds

Junior Mike McMullan, a two-time All-American, has finished second the last two years at the Keystone Classic, which he said disappointed him because it is the same as his national standing as a NCAA runner-up. He and Pariano agreed that they expect a title this weekend.

“From now on, Mike McMullan should not lose another college match,” Pariano said.

McMullan will also face some of the nation’s best wrestlers in his field.

North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski and Indiana’s Adam Chalfant rank as the No. 3 and No. 8 heavyweights, respectively, on InterMat Wrestling. American’s Blake Herrin, Boston’s Kevin Innis and Bloomsburg’s Justin Grant also rank in the top 20.

Last season, Chalfant defeated McMullan in the Keystone Classic title match with a 5-3 decision.

McMullan agreed that the tournament style makes the matches more difficult. He said he is keeping his daily routine throughout the preparation week.

“So much is up to chance in the tournament setting where you don’t know who your next opponent is going to be,” he said.

With Sunday’s event being individual, Pariano said his wrestlers should worry about “taking care of their job and business.”

Although the Cats are coming off a close defeat at Nebraska, history is on their side, as they have never finished worse than second at the Keystone Classic.

“We’ve had a lot of success at this tournament the last couple of years,” McMullan said. “We’re just looking to continue that trend of dominance.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @Jesse_Kramer

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Wrestling: Northwestern buckles up to three-peat at Keystone Classic