Wrestling: Wildcats’ losing streak stretches to eight despite Malone, Tsirtsis wins


Daily file photo by Sean Su

Jason Tsirtsis grabs the leg of his opponent. The junior was one of only a few Wildcats that won in a weekend where NU fell to both Michigan and Michigan State.

Dan Waldman, Reporter


Redshirt-freshman Conan Jennings walked out to the mat with the chance to give Northwestern it’s first win since November. But Jennings quickly found himself immobilized underneath Michigan State’s Dimitrius Renfroe — awarding Renfroe a quick four points. After going behind early, Jennings could not overcome the point difference and lost the match 5-3 in the third period. Michigan State had defeated Northwestern 19-15 to give the Spartans their first win of the season.

The Wildcats (1-9, 0-4 Big Ten) couldn’t snap their six-game losing streak this weekend, falling to both No. 6 Michigan (10-2, 5-1) and Michigan State (1-12, 1-7) on the road over the weekend. After coming up short against the Wolverines by a score of 39-6 on Friday, NU lost in dramatic fashion in East Lansing as it trailed by one point entering Jennings’s match.

Although the Cats were unable to get their first win since November, junior Jason Tsirtsis, the No. 4 wrestler in the 149-pound class, recorded two critical victories against No. 6 Alec Pantaleo and against Michigan State’s Kaelan Richards. Prior to Friday’s dual, Tsirtsis had lost in consecutive matches to No. 2 Brandon Sorensen of Iowa and No. 1 Zain Retherford of Penn State.

And after battling injuries for much of the season and having an exceptionally difficult schedule thus far, Tsirtsis said this weekend was vital for him.

“I just take it one match at a time and try to improve my wrestling ability,” Tsirtsis said. “I’ve won matches before, I’ve lost matches before, so these wins — sure they feel nice — but I’ve just got to keep improving.”

During the week, interim coach Matt Storniolo said some of the wrestlers needed to perform this weekend to help their national tournament chances. Senior Dominick Malone did just that.

Malone finished the weekend 2-0 and came away with a significant 3-2 decision win over Michigan’s Rossi Bruno, No. 17 in the 133-pound class. He then finished the weekend by defeating the Spartans’ Garth Yenter 10-0 to improve his dual record to 7-3.

Before this weekend, Malone was on a three-match losing streak and was winless in Big Ten play. He now leads all NU wrestlers with 17 wins on the season.

“This was a huge weekend for Dom. I think he wrestled exceptionally well,” Storniolo said. “Getting wins against two decent opponents — one of them ranked — is a big step in the right direction for Dom. Now he needs to keep that momentum rolling into the rest of the season and the regular season.”

Overall, the Cats performed relatively well individually this weekend, and some wrestlers picked up much-needed wins. Although NU didn’t come away with a team win this weekend, the Cats are heading into an easier portion of the schedule.

However, the team also lost to what might be it’s weakest opponent in the Spartans. Following the Michigan State dual, Storniolo said he was disappointed with the team’s fight against the then-winless Spartans and that the Cats should never have lost that match.

“We had some bright spots individually, but as far as the team effort goes, we’re a little disappointed with ourselves,” Storniolo said. “Michigan State is never a school that should beat us — doesn’t matter how many starters we have out, how banged up we are — that’s a school we need to beat.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Dan_Waldman