Wrestling: Cats show off depth in strong December


Daily file photo by Alison Albelda

Ryan Deakin wrestles in a 2018 match. The redshirt junior took home the Midlands title at 157 pounds for the second consecutive year.

Ben Lualdi, Reporter


Northwestern finished 2019 with a strong December, showing off its depth in a pair of tournaments during the holiday season.

On Dec. 6 and 7, the No. 13 Wildcats (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) placed ninth out of 32 schools in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational.

“It’s a good result,” coach Matt Storniolo said. “Arguably, that tournament is the toughest regular season tournament in the country.”

Redshirt junior Ryan Deakin led Northwestern, winning all five of his bouts to place first in the 157-pound division for the second consecutive year.

Deakin’s victories included bouts against No. 2 David Carr of Iowa State, as well as top-ranked Hayden Hidlay of North Carolina State.

Storniolo said Deakin’s continued success has not been a surprise.

“Ryan was a rockstar at this time last year, and he’s a rockstar this year,” the coach said. “It’s hard to be in a better spot than he is right now.”

Deakin was not the only Wildcat who impressed. Even without star junior Sebastian Rivera — who spent that weekend wrestling with the Puerto Rican national team — the Cats placed four wrestlers in the top eight of their respective weight classes.

The squad’s depth this year makes NU more competitive with the top teams in the country, Storniolo said.

“This is by far the deepest team that I’ve seen Northwestern wrestling have in my years as a head or assistant coach,” he said. “It’s an instrumental part that we’ve been missing.”

A couple weeks later, on Dec. 29 and 30, the Cats competed in the Ken Kraft Midlands Championships in Hoffman Estates, Ill. NU showed off its depth once again, placing six wrestlers in the top eight of their weight classes . The Cats finished ninth out of 37 teams in the competition.

The standout performer for NU was redshirt freshman Michael DeAugustino, who finished second in a 125-pound class that featured two-time defending national champion Spencer Lee of Iowa. DeAugustino has surprised some this year, but not Storniolo.

“He’s a competitor,” Storniolo said. “He’s a guy that you never have to worry about his effort … it’s been pretty special to see him flourish.”

In his first major tournament in the 133-pound weight class, Rivera finished fourth in his group. He advanced to the semifinals against Wisconsin’s Seth Gross — the defending national champion at 133 pounds — but fell in an 8-7 decision.

Returning this weekend after the winter break, the Cats will be put to the test. NU opens Big Ten play hosting No. 18 Purdue (7-1, 0-0) on Friday, then travels to State College, P.A. on Sunday to take on No. 3 Penn State (3-1, 0-0).

Storniolo said the team is looking forward to the challenge.

“The guys are excited about the challenges that lie ahead,” he said. “They’re ready to test themselves and see where they measure up.”

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