Wrestling: Cats fall in Big Ten Opener, place ninth at Midlands


Daily file photo by Annabel Edwards

Jason Tsirtsis stares down his opponent. Northwestern struggled in its Big Ten opener, falling to Ohio State.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


Northwestern didn’t have much time to celebrate the holidays, as it fell in its Big Ten opener to No. 7 Ohio State and followed with a ninth place finish at the 53rd annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships.

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-1 Big Ten) hosted the Buckeyes on Dec. 18 and kept the dual close until the final three wrestlers competed. NU took an early 5-0 lead when senior Garrison White recorded a technical fall in the 125-pound match. Jason Tsirtsis, who is the No. 3 wrestler in the 149-pound weight class, also won his match in a 5-3 decision.

But the Cats later dropped two consecutive matchups and Ohio State took a 16-13 lead. Redshirt sophomore Mitch Sliga won his 184-pound match to tie the dual at 16, but with three matchups remaining, redshirt-freshman Regis Durbin, redshirt-junior Jacob Berkowitz and redshirt-freshman Conan Jennings all lost their respective matches.

Ohio State won the match by a score of 27-16, but NU did not have much time to wallow in defeat — the team was set to host the Midlands in just 10 days.

The Cats had 16 wrestlers compete at the Midlands Championships — a tournament that NU hosted from Dec. 29-30. Six of the team’s wrestlers were seeded in their brackets, while Tsirtsis held the top rank of all the team’s wrestlers boasting the No. 2 seed in the 149-pound class.

Tsirtsis finished as the runner-up after losing to the No. 1 seed in the tournament, and No. 2 ranked wrestler in the country, Brandon Sorenson. Tsirtsis and Sorenson were tied with only one point each at the end of regulation — both managed to secure a point from escapes.

But in overtime, Sorenson gained the advantage and scored two points in a scramble to win the Midlands. Tsirtsis was the reigning champion of the tournament, and he will face Sorenson again in the team’s next match. The rest of the team’s wrestlers also added respectable performances, earning the Cats 61 points and ninth place.

White started NU off strong, beating his first two opponents by a combined score of 33-0. He first handled Joe Antonelli of SIU-Edwardsville and then shutout the bracket’s No. 10 wrestler Ares Carpio from Arizona State.

White’s dominance was thwarted by Oregon State’s No. 2 seed Ronnie Bresser. Before losing to Bresser, White was on a seven-match win streak and had a 9-3 record.
Malone finished fifth in his weight class after winning three consolation matches. His opponent, Iowa junior Cory Clark who was the No. 1 seed in the bracket, medically forfeited in the fifth-place match. Malone finished the tournament with a record of 6-2 and is now 15-4 on the season.

NU caught unlucky breaks when Oster had to medically forfeit in the second round of the tournament, and when Northern Illinois’s Trace Engelkes upset Sliga in the first round. Sliga did not place in the top eight, and Oster was not able to make a return to the Midlands.

The Cats next host No. 2 Iowa on Sunday. Iowa won the Midlands Championships for the third straight year after scoring 152 points — 91 more points than NU.

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