Wrestling: Northwestern looks to take down ranked foes Rutgers, Iowa


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Mitch Sliga holds on during a bout. The senior and the Wildcats take on the Rutgers on Friday in Sliga’s final home bout.

Alison Albelda, Reporter


Following an exciting win Sunday against No. 14 Minnesota, Northwestern looks to continue its winning streak against No. 19 Rutgers on Friday before travelling to take on No. 7 Iowa in Iowa City on Sunday.

With the win, the Wildcats (8-2, 3-2 Big Ten) sit at No. 17 in the rankings, a three-spot jump from last week’s No. 20 spot. Coach Matt Storniolo, however, is only focused on the present.

“(We just want to) come away from (this weekend) with a win and individually wrestle to the best of our ability,” Storniolo said. “Couple of chances for revenge which is always nice and it would be nice to get that revenge against a couple of guys going into the Big Ten Tournament.”

Friday’s match will be particularly important for redshirt freshman Sebastian Rivera, who is ranked No. 10 at 125 pounds and sits at 20-1 for the season. His only loss came in December at the Midlands Championships against No. 2 Nick Suriano of the Scarlet Knights (5-5, 1-4).

Rivera’s defeat came by only a single point due to riding time, and the freshman said he has been preparing for his rematch against Suriano for the past month.

“I was at that dual, and it was devastating to get overwhelmed like that in New Jersey, my home town,” Rivera said. “But we will do it out here in Evanston. We will take care of it.”

Redshirt freshman Ryan Deakin is NU’s highest-ranked wrestler, sitting at No. 5 in the 149-pound weight class. Deakin is a perfect 10-0 in Big Ten dual competition and scored his team-high sixth pin of the season Sunday.

But he’ll also be up against stiff competition this weekend, as one of the only wrestlers ranked ahead of him at 149 is No. 2 Brandon Sorensen of Iowa (9-2, 4-2), who has yet to lose a match this year.

Also ranked is junior Johnny Sebastian, in the No. 18 slot at 174-pounds, and he is likewise undefeated in conference competition.

This will be the Cats’ final home meet of the season and redshirt senior Mitch Sliga’s final bout at home. Sliga, who wrestles in the 184-pound division, is coming off of a win last Sunday against the Golden Gophers.

“It would be nice to have a big crowd out there,” Storniolo said, “And send off Mitch Sliga, who has been a four-year starter for us and national qualifier, and also send off … senior (transfer) Michael Sepke.”

Against Rutgers, Sliga will be up against tough competition, facing Nicholas Gravina, who holds the No.12 spot for the 184-pound rankings.

Though Gravina won’t be the easiest senior night opponent, Sliga said he sees the challenge as more of an opportunity to pick up an important win.

“I would say out of any of the nights in my career, this would be the best one to get a big upset,” Sliga said. “So I’m definitely excited for that. … Individually, every guy wants to win, and I think has an opportunity to win, so just get as many guys with their hands raised as possible.”

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