Wrestling: Late rally pushes Northwestern past Stanford for first win in over a month


Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

Jason Tsirtsis squares off against his Iowa opponent. The freshman, who is ranked No. 4 in his weight class, won by major decision Sunday against Stanford to improve to 22-3 on the season.

Jesse Kramer, Reporter

No. 23 Northwestern (7-7, 1-7 Big Ten) completed its home season Sunday with a 20-19 win over No. 22 Stanford (17-5).

The Wildcats erased a 19-11 deficit with victories in the three final bouts. The win ended NU’s six-match losing streak –- the Cats’ last victory was Jan. 4 against then-No. 23 Indiana.

No. 1 heavyweight Mike McMullan emphasized how important the win was for team morale, despite coming against a non-conference squad.

“When you’re in the Big Ten, you can kind of get in a rut,” the junior said. “Getting out of conference and getting a key win late in the season, it’s some good reassurance.”

Sophomores Garrison White and Dominick Malone lost bouts at 125 and 133 pounds, respectively, to begin the match.

Junior Pat Greco notched the Wildcats’ first points with a major decision victory against Stanford’s Matt Garelli.

“It’ll be a big confidence-booster for him moving towards the Big Ten Tournament,” coach Drew Pariano said.

Greco was honored along with seniors Kevin Bialka and David Helmer before the match. Although Greco is only a junior, he graduates this spring to start law school next year.

“I’ve had a lot of good memories, but today was a little extra special,” Greco said.

Redshirt freshman Jason Tsirtsis, ranked No. 4 in his weight class, followed with another major decision win to bring the Cats within 2 at 10-8.

After Peter Galli defeated redshirt freshman Ben Sullivan, junior Pierce Harger, No. 7 in the nation, got NU back on track with a victory at 165 pounds.

Junior Lee Munster then failed to complete his bout because of a lower leg injury, bumping Stanford’s lead to 19-11.

Munster has been banged up all season, missing eight matches. He had not wrestled since Jan. 19 at No. 1 Penn State because of a knee injury.

Sophomore Jacob Berkowitz knocked off opponent Thomas Kimbrell in sudden victory overtime to keep the Cats alive.

Pariano said he was proud of Berkowitz, who had been somewhat of a weak link recently with losses in his last four outings. Still, the coach was hard on Berkowitz when the sophomore missed a chance for a fall in overtime.

“When he gets to trust his capabilities, we know he can get gutsy wins like this,” Pariano said.

Juniors Alex Polizzi and McMullan completed the comeback with victories at 197 and 285 pounds, respectively.

Polizzi, ranked No. 17 in his weight class, held off No. 19 Dan Scherer in overtime. Polizzi briefly lost control of the match after being called for an illegal hold, but he regrouped to win in sudden victory overtime.

“He’s matured to the point where he can bounce back and keep wrestling,” Pariano said.

With the match on the line, McMullan backed up his No. 1 ranking with a 6-3 decision against Josh Marchok to clinch the win for NU.

“The bench wasn’t overconfident, but it gets more relaxed when you have a great heavyweight like Mike go out there,” Pariano said. “You can’t say enough about a guy like him.”

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