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    Home Stretch Begins with NIU Friday at Welsh-Ryan Arena

    Northwestern shut out NIU last year, 38-0. Kaleb Friedley recorded a 6-1 decision at 141 lbs. in last year's dual.

    Northwestern shut out NIU last year, 38-0. Kaleb Friedley recorded a 6-1 decision at 141 lbs. in last year's dual.

    Feb. 1, 2012

    No. 19 Northwestern (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten)
    vs. Northern Illinois (6-7, 0-4 MAC)
    Fri., Feb. 3, 2012 • 7 p.m.
    Welsh-Ryan Arena
    BTDN on Wildcats All-Access
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    Northwestern Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader

    EVANSTON, Ill. – Northwestern takes a break from Big Ten action and hosts nonconference opponent Northern Illinois at 7 p.m. Friday inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. This is the first of three-straight nonconference duals for the ’Cats before they close the regular season hosting Indiana on Feb. 17.

    Prior to Friday’s match, the Naperville Wrestling Club and Maine Eagles youth wrestling teams will square off on the mat at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. and tickets are available for purchase at the door.

    Last Time Out
    The Wildcats spent last weekend on the road, and went 1-1, falling to No. 8 Illinois, 26-10 Friday but then bounced back with a 21-18 win at Purdue Sunday.

    On Friday, No. 8 Levi Mele won his Midlands rematch with Illinois’ No. 5 Jesse Delgado in a 13-7 decision.  No. 15 Mike McMullan also recorded a win for NU at heavyweight, scoring a takedown in the last 19 seconds of sudden victory for the 4-2 win over Pat Walker at heavyweight.  No. 2 Jason Welch also had a 13-3 major decision for the ’Cats, improving to a perfect 16-0 on the season at 157.

    Northwestern bounced back from Friday’s loss pulling off a win at Purdue. Control of the dual went back and forth during the first four bouts and it was ultimately decided by key first-period falls by No. 13 Lee Munster at 174 and Welch.  Munster’s pin in 13 seconds was his fastest on the season, as well as the fastest for any NU wrestler this season. Welch’s pin furthered his perfect record to 17-0 on the season.  Levi Mele, Pierce Harger and Pat Greco also had wins for the Wildcats in the 21-18 victory.

    Scouting the Huskies
    Northern Illinois is 6-7 on the season, 0-4 in the MAC, and the Huskies finished 26th at Midlands.  The Huskies came out strong in their match against Eastern Michigan last Sunday, winning two of the first three matches.  They then lost their momentum, not winning again until the last match and losing the dual 22-9.  Nick Smith at 125 and Brad Dieckhaus at 184 are ranked 20th and 18th in the nation, respectively.  Smith had one of the victories for the Huskies in the Eastern Michigan dual.

    The Wildcats defeated Northern Illinois last year in a triangular dual in Edwardsville, Ill.  Northwestern shut out the Huskies 38-0. Jason Welch pinned both of his opponents in the triangular.

    Probable Starters

    Weight Northwestern Northern Illinois
    125 No. 10 Levi Mele (22-4) No. 20 Nick Smith (11-3)
    133 Jameson Oster (9-11) Rob Jillard (12-11)
    141 Colin Shober (11-10) OR Pat Greco (10-9) Kevin Fanta (9-3)
    149 Kaleb Friedley (15-9) Matt Smith (7-5) OR Tyler Argue (5-10)
    157 No. 2 Jason Welch (17-0) Tyler Loethen (8-9) OR Sam Bennett (1-4)
    165 Pierce Harger (15-9) Matt Mougin (4-7) OR Dan Burk (3-5)
    174 No. 12 Lee Munster (16-8) Caleb Busson (7-12)
    184 Robert Kellogg (2-11) OR Marcus Shrewsbury (2-9) No. 18 Brad Dieckhaus (7-0) OR Shane Rosenberry (0-7)
    197 John Schoen (12-13) Mike Lukowski (7-5)
    Hwt No. 13 Mike McMullan (17-8) Jared Torrence (10-10)

    Winning Welch
    Jason Welch
    continues to have a solid junior season as he is out to a perfect 17-0 record and has won a majority of his matches in dominating fashion. Eleven of his 17 wins (64.7 percent; six major decisions, one tech fall and four pins) have come with bonus points and he has outscored his opponents 114-26 so far this year (doesn’t include point totals in his four bouts won by fall). In fact, the most any opponent has scored on Welch this year is four points, but the three times an opponent scored four on Welch, he won those bouts by major decision. Welch currently holds a career record of 72-17, which is the exact same record as former NU NCAA champion Mark Massery. Welch and Massery are currently tied for ninth on NU’s career winning percentage at .809. Friday’s bout will be Welch’s 90th career match at Northwestern.

    Stepping In and Stepping Up
    Redshirt freshman Pat Greco started at 141 lbs. Sunday vs. Purdue and scored a key decision in NU’s three-point dual victory over the Boilermakers. Greco was wrestling in his first match since Jan. 15 when he took on Iowa’s then-second-ranked Montell Marion. On Sunday, Greco edged Nick Lawrence 5-4 to record his first career Big Ten dual victory and his 10th win of the season. Greco has split time with Colin Shober as the 141 lbs. starter this year and also filled in at 149 lbs. against Michigan.

    Back on Track
    After starting the season 16-0, junior Levi Mele hit a bit of a roadblock in mid-January, losing back-to-back bouts, but NU’s 125 lbs. starter is back on track, winning his last three matches. Mele began his winning streak by pinning MSU’s Eric Olanowski in 3:29 and then won a Midlands rematch against Illinois’ then-No. 5 Jesse Delgado. In the first meeting, Delgado pinned Mele, giving him one of his four losses on the year. In the dual, Mele jumped out to a 5-0 lead and led by as many as six points (8-2) in his 13-7 decision over Delgado. Mele then won his third-straight bout by shutting out Purdue’s Camden Eppert 6-0 with exactly 3:00 of riding time. Mele has already surpassed last year’s win total of 18 with a team-leading 22 victories this year. He also leads NU with nine pins and is second on the team with 41 dual points.

    Home Stretch
    NU has four duals remaining in the 2011-12 regular season before postseason action begins in March. The ’Cats just recently completed a stretch of wrestling three top-10 teams in four duals and the four teams remaining on the schedule are not ranked in the latest NWCA/USA Today Coaches poll. After Friday’s bout with Northern Illinois, NU wraps up the nonconference portion of its schedule Saturday, Feb. 11 vs. North Carolina and Campbell and then closes the Big Ten season Friday, Feb. 17 vs. Indiana.

    Falling Fast
    NU has 43 pins so far this season and has been making quick work of its opponents as 23 of those, or 53.4 percent, are first-period falls. Northwestern is on pace to pass last year’s pin total rather quickly as the ’Cats had just 45 falls during the entire 2010-11 season. Kaleb Friedley is second on the team with seven pins as six of those came in the first period, including two in less than a minute. Four of Pierce Harger’s five falls also came in the first period. Levi Mele leads NU this year with nine pins, but just one came in the first three minutes of the match. Last weekend vs. Purdue, Lee Munster recorded the fastest fall of the season for Northwestern, pinning Drake Stein in just 13 seconds. Jason Welch also had his fastest fall of the season vs. Purdue, sticking Tommy Churchard in 1:12.


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