Wrestling: Northwestern beats SIU-Edwardsville to close regular season


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Zach Chakonis battles with an opponent. The sophomore pinned his opponent in the Wildcats’ beatdown of SIU-E.

Alison Albelda, Reporter


This weekend, Northwestern emerged victorious over SIU-Edwardsville.

Sunday featured a 36-10 domination by the No. 17 Wildcats (11-4, 5-4 Big Ten) against the unranked Cougars (6-15). In their last dual meet of the season, the Cats established themselves as the stronger feline foe.

NU finished the match with three pins, one of which came from sophomore Zack Chakonis. Chakonis, who notably clinched a pin one week ago against Purdue, closed out the 197-pound weight class with a fall nine seconds before the end of the third period.

Chakonis said his weekend win, his fourth pin of the regular season, makes him excited for the postseason.

“I think that (this win) was really important,” Chakonis said. “The coaches said all week that this was a stepping stone and trying to build off of this … I think this was really a great confidence booster.”

Nearly all the Cats’ wrestlers had confidence-boosting performances Sunday, with the squad obtaining eight individual wins — in every weight class but the 165-pound and the 125-pound classes.

For the 125-pound class, NU decided not to wrestle No. 9-ranked redshirt freshman Sebastian Rivera. The team instead opted for a forfeit to SIU-E’s Zachary Gentzler in order to rest Rivera, a New Jersey native with a 22-3 record, as the postseason approaches.

Senior Mitch Sliga, wrestling in the 184-pound weight class, ended his final career dual on a high note, scoring his second pin of the season in 4:17 against the Cougars’ Jacob Godinez.

Sliga said the match was productive for tuning up some of the things he has been working on with the coaches.

“(My focus) has been getting to my offense early,” Sliga said. “I am best when I am scoring points, so I wanted to make an emphasis on getting into my offense as soon as I could. I ended up taking him down in the first 30 seconds or so, which is something I really wanted to accomplish.”

The Cats are led by redshirt freshman Ryan Deakin, NU’s highest-ranked wrestler who sits at No. 5 in the 149-pound weight class. Deakin ended the dual season with a notable eighth pin, a team high, in the first period versus SIU-E.

Also ranked is junior Johnny Sebastian, sitting in the No. 20 slot at 174 pounds. Sebastian beat his opponent with an 8-0 shutout.

Coach Matt Storniolo praised the team and said the win was just what they needed.

“It was (good) to go out there and open up on offense, score a lot of points, get the confidence where you wanted to be heading into the Big Ten Championships,” Storniolo said. “This was kind of the exclamation on the end of the dual meet season, and it gets everybody in a nice place mentally.”

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