Wrestling: Pair of Wildcats shine in early season exhibition

Jesse Kramer, Reporter

Senior Mike McMullan and sophomore Jason Tsirtsis returned to the mat at the 2014 NWCA All-Star Classic on Saturday with their work cut out for them, and the duo delivered.

McMullan knocked off the nation’s top heavyweight, Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State. Tsirtsis, who holds the top ranking at 149 pounds, edged No. 3 Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State.

McMullan is a three-time All-American, but a national championship has eluded him each season. He made a statement Saturday with an 8-4 victory against Gwiazdowski, the defending NCAA heavyweight champion.

The senior was one of two athletes named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

“I got to my offense and felt crisp for it being the first time out,” McMullan said in a news release. “I know that I can be more diligent on my attacks and that will get me to where I want to be in March.”

McMullan entered the season ranked second at 285 pounds, and with this win, he could snag the top ranking from Gwiazdowski.

Tsirtsis finished last season on a roll, and that continued at the All-Star Classic.

Last season, he won his final eight regular season matches and then won Big Ten and NCAA titles. In the national title match, he defeated Kindig in overtime.

In the rematch, Tsirtsis defeated Kindig 4-1 in regulation.

“Jason showed he’s capable of widening the gap against a national runner-up,” coach Drew Pariano said in a release.

With the official season opener at Stanford approaching, Pariano has a pair of the nation’s best leading the way.

“It speaks volumes about their desire to dominate and be NCAA champions,” Pariano said in the release about Saturday’s performances.

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