Wrestling: Northwestern begins 2016 against Iowa in toughest match yet


Daily file photo by Sean Su

A Northwestern wrestler pins his opponent. The Wildcats will look to turn around their disappointing season Sunday against Iowa.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


The new year will not bring any easier competition for Northwestern, who will host undefeated Iowa on Sunday. 

The Wildcats (1-5, 0-1 Big Ten) will face the No. 2 Hawkeyes (8-0, 2-0) in a dual meet less than two weeks after Iowa won the 53rd annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships held at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Hawkeyes dominated the tournament, racking up an impressive 152 points — 91 more points than NU.

After watching Iowa compete at the Midlands, interim coach Matt Storniolo said NU isn’t treating this meet any differently.

“We will do some specific drills to try to emulate some of the things Iowa is notorious for — they are a physical team, they like to push around a lot,” Storniolo said. “But it’s business as usual. Yes, they’re a good team but they’re still just another team.”

Despite Iowa’s prestigious reputation thanks to its 23 national titles, and the Cats’ disappointing record to start the season, the dual will feature highly touted matchups between some of the top wrestlers in the country.

The 149-pound match will pit NU junior and No. 3 overall wrestler Jason Tsirtsis against the No. 2 wrestler in the country and reigning Midlands champion, Brandon Sorensen. Tsirtsis and Sorensen will face off again after battling each other in overtime in last month’s Midlands championship match. The two wrestlers have now met four times and the series is split 2-2, but three of the matches were decided in overtime.

“He’s got good defense, and it’s going to be a tough match,” Tsirtsis said of Sorensen. “But I’m going to go out there for seven minutes and try to break through and get my offense going to where I’m scoring points.”

In addition to Sorensen, the Hawkeyes have seven other wrestlers who are ranked by Intermat Wrestling in their respective weight classes.

Cats’ senior Dominick Malone will face No. 2 Cory Clark in the 133-pound match. Clark is 11-0 this season but he had to medically forfeit at the Midlands, where he was set to wrestle Malone in the fifth-place match before he got injured.

Clark will get his chance to avenge his forfeit on Sunday, but Malone said he is ready for the challenge.

“I’m excited for it definitely,” Malone said. “Obviously at Midlands I was kind of on a roll, so I was pretty confident going into it. It was a shame that I didn’t get to (wrestle Clark) but I’m definitely looking forward to the match.”

The Cats dropped their only Big Ten match of the season to Ohio State, and a win against Iowa would be crucial for a struggling NU program.

“It’s a little bit of a grind here with the schedule coming up,” Storniolo said. “This is probably the toughest schedule that Northwestern wrestling has ever had, and we’re a little beat up so it’s going to be big for individuals to pick up a win here and there.”

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