Wrestling: On the mat for the first time in 314 days, Purdue steamrolls Northwestern

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(Daily file photo by Alison Albelda)

Yahya Thomas wrestles an opponent. The junior dominated against Purdue’s Trey Kruse in the Season Opener, winning a 13-3 major decision.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Sports Editor

Ten months since the last time anyone has taken to the mat in a Northwestern singlet, coach Matt Storniolo led his team in a season opening battle against Purdue. The two teams were set to face off for the 91st time Friday night and the Boilermakers had won four out of the last five.

But Storniolo could be forgiven for thinking about the bigger picture. How after months spent worrying and waiting, the Wildcats were taking to the mat. 

“These guys have been chomping at the bit to get back out and get on the mat and do what they love,” Storniolo said. “A lot of these guys had things taken away from them at the end of last year so I’m just happy we were able to get the season underway.”

For a moment, it didn’t matter that NU had lost to the tune of a 28-8 scoreline. It didn’t matter that the lineup was short handed. Storniolo said five starters who will lead the line this season weren’t available to play on Friday. The Cats were back where they belonged. So was he.

For much of the first half, NU showed the energy perhaps befitting of the night. But the Boilermakers grabbed a lead for good right before the intermission and turned the dual into a blowout, sending the Cats home with a humbling 28-8 defeat. 

Freshman Chris Cannon and junior Yayha Thomas had the NU in great position early on in the contest. Cannon scored a major decision over Purdue’s Nate Cummins, and had him on the backfoot all match long. He came through with a dominant first period, spending almost the entire time draped on the back of Cummins, accounting for almost two minutes of riding time and leading 5-0 heading into the second frame ofplay. He won the bout by an 11-3 margin, putting four points on the board for the Cats via major decision.

“That’s the way you want to start your season,” Storniolo said. “It was good to see Chris keep his pace high, try to keep putting points on the board and getting that extra bonus point for himself and the team.” 

Thomas’s bout against Trey Kruse was nearly as impressive. The veteran took a commanding lead early, going up 8-2 less than 50 seconds into the first period. Up 10-3 at the first break, Thomas could afford to take his foot off the gas and came away with an easy 13-3 major decision. 

Cannon and Kruse were the only two wrestlers from Northwestern that won their bouts Friday. But the Cats had some close calls.  

Freshman Troy Fisher fell to Purdue’s Emil Soehnlen only after the pair combined for two scoreless periods. Soehnlen’s takedown in the final seconds of the third frame was enough to give him a 3-1 match victory.

Freshman Maxx Mayfield made the most of his first career collegiate appearance by taking Purdue’s Kendall Coleman down to the wire at the 157 pound weight class. Coleman, who led the Boilermakers to a spot in the Big Ten Championship last season, only got his first points against a stingy Mayfield in the second period. And Mayfield almost won the bout in its final seconds, converging on a takedown try just as the third period expired.

“As a coaching staff, we love the effort [Mayfield] put up there,” Storniolo said. “He’s wise beyond his years for a true freshman. To come in, first match out the gates, first college competition, and go out there against a top-five opponent..”

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Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy

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