Wrestling: Wildcats collapse in sixth-straight loss against a ranked opponent

Jesse Kramer, Reporter

Despite improved individual efforts, No. 21 Northwestern’s losing streak hit six Sunday at No. 18 Illinois.

The Wildcats (6-7, 1-7 Big Ten) have now lost six straight matches, all against nationally ranked opponents, after falling to the Illini (8-6, 2-5 Big Ten).

After tying the match, the Cats lost the final three bouts in a 24-12 defeat.

“Individually, I think the guys know what they need to work on and what it takes to be successful,” coach Drew Pariano said. “They have that opportunity, those seven minutes, to take everything we’ve learned in a full week of practice and put it into the competition. It’s a process.”

Four team members won individual bouts Sunday.

Redshirt freshman Jason Tsirtsis opened the match with a victory against John Fahy at 149 pounds. Tsirtsis, ranked fourth in his weight class, has now won his last five matches, including two against ranked competition.

Two bouts later, No. 7 Pierce Harger defeated No. 13 Jackson Morse at 165 pounds.

Harger suffered a close defeat to Iowa’s Nick Moore last week. Pariano said Harger was more focused this week and showed a killer instinct during the match.

“I think Pierce is starting to put things together,” Pariano said. “The one thing he did that was excellent was when he was winning the match, he put the nail in the coffin. He went after his guy and got another takedown.”

Victories by No. 17 Alex Polizzi at 197 pounds and No. 1 Mike McMullan at 285 pounds tied the match at 12-12 entering the last three bouts.

Sophomores Garrison White and Dominick Malone, along with junior Pat Greco closed the match with three defeats.

In the last six matches, that trio is a combined 1-17.

“Every single one of those guys has won big matches in their career,” Pariano said of White, Malone and Greco. “They’ve shown that they’re capable. We have three more duals, so that’s a great opportunity to put themselves in a good position heading into the Big Ten Tournament.”

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