Wrestling: Wildcats strike out opposition at Eastern Michigan Duals

Alex Lederman, Assistant Sports Editor


Wrestling


Three up, three down.

Northwestern continued rolling through its nonconference schedule — advancing to 4-0 — with three dominant performances Saturday at the Eastern Michigan Duals in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

“I wasn’t completely happy with the Stanford result last week,” coach Drew Pariano said. “But I think that we stepped it up a little bit this time out and did a good job.”

First, the Wildcats took on the home squad, Eastern Michigan. Each NU wrestler won his bout except 125-pound junior Garrison White and 174-pound sophomore Ben Sullivan.

Seniors No. 4 Pierce Harger, at 165 pounds, No. 10 Alex Polizzi, at 197 pounds, and No. 1 heavyweight Mike McMullan all cruised to victory, winning their matchups 6-0, 12-2 and 15-3, respectively.

“We’ve got these seniors that are just, they’re leading by example,” Pariano said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them. Polizzi, let’s be honest, he went out there and he just dominated guys in every way, shape and form. McMullan did the same. It’s great for the younger guys to see.”

In all, the Cats topped the Eagles 26-6 — a good result, but not what the team was hoping for.

“Eastern Michigan’s not a bad program,” Pariano said, “but we came out a little flat. We should have definitely expanded the score on certain guys and probably widened the gap a little bit on them.”

Up next for NU was Clarion, but the Golden Eagles didn’t fare any better against the Cats. This time, NU didn’t even drop one decision except the 174-pound weight class, which they forfeited.

Junior Dominick Malone at 133 pounds and Polizzi pinned their opponents, and 141-pound junior Jameson Oster and McMullan won by technical falls.

“They’re a program that’s rebuilding right now,” Pariano said, “so we put the hammer on them.”

Lastly, Central Michigan stepped up to the plate but struck out looking, giving the Cats a perfect 1-2-3 outing. Two NU wrestlers lost — Malone and redshirt freshman Mitch Sliga at 184 pounds — and the team again forfeited the 174-pound bout. But the Cats still won handily 25-12.

“On paper,” Pariano said, “they match up really well with us. And with us not having a 174-pounder, that’s kind of like going into a football game missing a defensive back. It’s pretty important. Our guys stepped up, especially at 125 (White) and 141 (Oster) — couldn’t be happier with those guys — and 157 with (Bryce) Brill coming out there as a true freshman.”

The match against Central Michigan even featured an upset from NU — Oster took down Zachary Horan, No. 10 in the nation at 141 pounds.

“I’ve wrestled that kid a couple times the past couple years and lost to him,” Oster said. “It felt good to go out and beat him this time. I felt like I went out there with a good plan to wrestle my match, and I just got the win.”

Pariano wasn’t surprised at the result.

“Jameson has had one of the best preseasons out of any guy on our team,” he said. “What you’re just seeing is the benefits of hard work. He deserves everything he gets, and he doesn’t take shortcuts. As a redshirt junior, he’s just getting it. He’s getting it.”

Oster said he pulled through by staying in good position, pushing the pace, staying sound defensively and taking his opportunities when they were there.

“Going forward,” he said, “I need to keep improving and keep winning. I’m looking at the end of the year to get on that podium as an All-American.”

Six Cats finished 3-0 on the day: Oster, No. 1 sophomore Jason Tsirtsis, at 149 pounds, Brill, Harger, Polizzi and McMullan.

Overall, NU only lost four out of 30 total matchups and won nine with bonus points.

“We’re not satisfied,” Pariano said. “We’re happy with the result, but it’s a long season. And we’re not content by any means. We have a long way to go, and we have a lot of improvement to do. But at the same time, I’m encouraged by the result.”

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