Wrestling: Wildcats claim individual awards, team title at Keystone Classic

Alex Lederman, Assistant Sports Editor


Northwestern unlocked first place at the Keystone Classic this weekend, winning both the team title and two individual gold medals at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Although we only had the two individual champions,” 197-pound senior Alex Polizzi said, “it’s not that far-fetched that on a different day, we could have had many guys win the whole thing.”

No. 9 Polizzi and sophomore No. 1 Jason Tsirtsis, the 2014 NCAA Champion at 149 pounds, won their weight classes, while 165-pound senior No. 4 Pierce Harger placed second and 141-pound junior No. 18 Jameson Oster and 184-pound redshirt freshman Mitch Sliga notched third. Nobody wrestled for NU at the 157- or 174-pound weight classes or at heavyweight.

“We went out there with only seven guys, and we still won the tournament,” coach Drew Pariano said. “That speaks to the seven guys that were out there. They looked for bonus points, and that’s why we won the tournament.”

Overall, NU scored 98.0 points, 5.5 more than second place Rider.

No. 1 Tsirtsis won his first two matches by major decision, 10-2 and 12-3, respectively.

In the final, he topped No. 10 Dylan Cottrell of Appalachian State 5-4.

“Jason fought through a pretty significant injury to his eye,” Pariano said. “A lot of guys probably wouldn’t wrestle through that, and he was able to do that and still win the tournament.”

Polizzi won his first match with a fall and his third by major decision, 12-0, before defeating No. 10 Nick Bonaccorsi of Pittsburgh, 6-2, in the final.

“Alex’s match against Bonaccorsi was one of the most complete and cleanest matches I’ve ever seen him wrestle,” Pariano said. “He was just in control the entire time against another top-10 opponent.”

Pariano said Polizzi is “putting it all together” his senior year.

Polizzi said he was happy to win the tournament but doesn’t put too much stock in the title.

“It’s still early in the season,” he said. “There’s a lot of other sports where early in the season it might matter where your record is and there’s some people that may argue that wrestling is the same, but really, this is all just practice for the big show in March.”

Oster looked strong this weekend too, pinning his opponent in four of his five bouts. Although he lost in the semifinal to No. 19 Chuck Zeisloft of Rider, he recovered with a fall in the third-place matchup.

Harger reached the championship bout at 165 pounds with one pin and two major decision victories but was pinned by No. 12 Taylor Walsh of Indiana in the final.

“We get to see that guy three more times this year,” Pariano said, “so we’re looking forward to those rematches.”

The Wildcats return to action Sunday against Lehigh in their first home meet of the season.

As for Thanksgiving, Pariano has plans for his team.

“We’re going to get together as a team and eat,” Pariano said. “But it’s wrestling, so I don’t know how much food we’re going to be able to consume because we have to make weight on Sunday.”

Polizzi said maybe the team will make up for it after the season.

“We can’t really change into our stretch pants quite yet,” he said.

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