Wrestling: Jason Ipsarides shines as Wildcats lose two Big Ten matches
January 30, 2017
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In a weekend otherwise spoiled by two conference losses, Jason Ipsarides shined for Northwestern.
The Wildcats’ 133-pound redshirt freshman was the only undefeated wrestler in a rare multi-dual meet weekend. After notching a home win on Friday in the team’s meet against Indiana, Ipsarides beat Penn State’s George Carpenter in a 4-3 decision on the road Sunday. With the pair of wins, his dual record for the season improved to 8-4.
“I think his score [on Sunday] was closer than the match was,” coach Matt Storniolo said. “Jason was in control the whole match. He was the aggressor, and he did a great job in front of a hostile crowd.”
Ipsarides’ defeat of the Hoosiers’ Garrett Pepple in an 8-1 decision Friday represented the night’s longest bout. A bloody nose sustained by Pepple in the first period caused a 10-minute delay and frequent pauses throughout the remainder of the bout.
But Ipsarides said he did not let his concentration break.
“You just have to keep your focus and be ready to wrestle,” Ipsarides said. “I knew we had 17 seconds left (in the first period), and I just had to remember to keep him down for those 17 seconds to earn some points.”
There were few silver linings for the Cats outside of Ipsarides’ wins.
NU (6-6, 1-5 Big Ten) continued to struggle following its first conference victory in nearly two years, a 23-21 decision against Michigan State on Jan. 13.
Despite leading Indiana 11-10 at halftime, the Cats surrendered a series of losses in the second half, giving the Hoosiers (8-6, 1-4) a 23-14 win.
“(The Indiana match) was a bit of a disappointment,” Storniolo said. “It was a winnable dual. There were a lot of swing matches and we left a couple of them out there, and it cost us.”
The team’s 45-3 loss to Penn State (10-0, 6-0) would have been a clean sweep if not for Ipsarides’ win. The Nittany Lions, who won the NCAA Championship last season and are currently ranked second in the country, pinned five of the Cats’ 10 starters. Storniolo said that wrestling such a successful program, especially on the road, was a good learning experience for the team.
Even the Wildcats’ heavyweight Conan Jennings, who entered Sunday’s dual with a four-meet win streak and an undefeated Big Ten record, lost to the nation’s No. 4 heavyweight, Nick Nevills, in a 5-4 decision, ceding the winning point at the end of the third period.
“If the match was one second longer I would’ve gotten two extra points and won it, which is super annoying,” Jennings said. “Now that my win streak is over, people are going to know I’m beatable. I have to work harder, improve my endurance and not let my opponents rise to my level.”
The Cats will have a chance to bounce back against Illinois on Friday. Heading into the match, Storniolo sees places where the team can improve.
“We’re a young team, we’re a bit inexperienced and we have to make up for that with the attitude we bring to our matches,” Storniolo said. “I think we’re wrestling a bit too nice out there. It’s not a nice guy’s sport.”
A previous version of this article misstated Penn State’s ranking. It is No. 2. The Daily regrets the error.