Wrestling: Wildcats “knock the rust off” in season-opening meet

A+Wildcat+takes+down+his+opponent.+NU%E2%80%99s+wrestlers+experienced+varying+results+over+the+weekend%2C+with+senior+Dominick+Malone+having+the+best+performance.
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Wrestling: Wildcats “knock the rust off” in season-opening meet

A Wildcat takes down his opponent. NU’s wrestlers experienced varying results over the weekend, with senior Dominick Malone having the best performance.

A Wildcat takes down his opponent. NU’s wrestlers experienced varying results over the weekend, with senior Dominick Malone having the best performance.

Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang

A Wildcat takes down his opponent. NU’s wrestlers experienced varying results over the weekend, with senior Dominick Malone having the best performance.

Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang

Daily file photo by Luke Vogelzang

A Wildcat takes down his opponent. NU’s wrestlers experienced varying results over the weekend, with senior Dominick Malone having the best performance.

Cole Paxton, Reporter

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Sometimes early in the season, results aren’t the most important thing.

Such was the case for Northwestern on Sunday, when 15 wrestlers competed at the season-opening Michigan State Open in East Lansing. Although the Wildcats as a whole did not have their most successful meet, interim coach Matt Storniolo was more concerned about getting a few matches out of the way than the final results.

“In some sense you have to knock the rust off,” he said. “It’s been a while since some of these guys competed. This is a chance we have to see where we measure up with some of the other programs around the country and find out what we need to do.”

One wrestler who matched up quite well on the day was senior Dominick Malone. Competing at 133 pounds, Malone finished fifth in the weight class and compiled a 4-1 record, winning three matches by fall and the fourth by a tech fall.

Malone lost in the quarterfinals to Missouri’s Jaydin Clayton but rebounded to win his next three matches to take fifth overall.

“I was pretty happy with how I finished today, for sure,” Malone said. “I had one match there where I fell short … but overall I was definitely happy with my performance. It’s a good place to build off of.”

Competing without top-ranked 149-pounder Jason Tsirtsis, who Storniolo said was simply rested on Sunday, NU’s other results were decidedly mixed. Only five of the Cats’ other 11 wrestlers competing in the open division won more than one match.

There were, however, individual bright spots, particularly for senior Jameson Oster and sophomore Mitch Sliga, competing at 141 and 174 pounds respectively. Both advanced to the quarterfinals, with Oster recording a fall and two major decisions in his three wins.

Several young and inexperienced NU wrestlers, meanwhile, picked up valuable early season matches. Eight true freshmen and three wrestlers who redshirted last season competed.

“The more competition we can see, the better we’re going to be,” Storniolo said. “Today was a step in the right direction for the younger guys.”

Jacob Berkowitz was among those grateful to get his season underway. The 197-pound junior redshirted last year and as a result, competed only as an unattached wrestler in a handful of early season meets.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “t’s really nice to finally be back, competing again as a team, with the team.”

The long day and season-opening meet took its toll on the Cats. Five NU wrestlers competed at least four times, often several hours apart and against unfamiliar opponents.

Storniolo said several wrestlers entered Sunday “less than 100 percent healthy.” As a result of minor knocks and the long day, both Berkowitz and Oster ended their days early and forfeited their final matches.

“It’s tough to keep yourself going throughout the whole day,” Berkowitz said. “It’s a long day, an early morning, and it’s tough just to keep your mind right and keep your body in a good place for the entire day.”

For Storniolo, Sunday was for the most part a positive day. Ultimately, the Cats can use the day’s work as a stepping stone for future meets.

“I liked the guys’ attitudes and the way they competed today,” Storniolo said. “But we still have a lot of work to do before March.”

Email: colepaxton2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ckpaxton

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