March 9, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- After witnessing yet another dominating performance at the Big Ten Championships by Jake Herbert, the conference's 11 head wrestling coaches have voted the Northwestern senior the 2009 Big Ten Wrestler of the Year. Herbert adds this most recent honor to the long list of Northwestern firsts he has achieved, becoming the first Wildcat to be named the league's Wrestler of the Year in the 24-year history of the award.
Herbert (29-0), who bested Iowa's third-ranked Phil Keddy in the 184-pound championship match on Sunday to become NU's first three-time Big Ten champion, was also one of 10 wrestlers named to the All-Big Ten squad. His three wins over the weekend at Penn State brought his career victories total to 144 -- just two behind Steve DePetro for second all-time at Northwestern -- and his school-record winning percentage to .973.
Following a year away from college wrestling spent pursuing a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Herbert began his senior campaign with a No. 2 national ranking before being voted back into the top spot of the USAToday/InterMat/NWCA polls on Jan. 6, a spot he has maintained ever since. His first match back with Northwestern in November lasted only 14 seconds as he recorded the first of 14 pins in the 2008-09 season.
In late December, Herbert was virtually uncontested in capturing his third Midlands title at Welsh-Ryan Arena. He registered two pins--including one over seventh-ranked Doug Umbehauer of Rider -- a tech fall and a 15-1 major decision against Keddy in the final on his way to the title.
Another one of his falls came in the NWCA National Duals as he picked up an impressive six points against Nebraska's 11th-ranked Vince Jones in 4:47.
Herbert was no less dominant in the Big Ten dual season, posting an unbeaten league record for the third time in his career and leading NU's squad with 37 dual points earned in eight matches (4.625 points per dual).
The Pennsylvania native is out to become Northwestern's first repeat national champion since Jack Riley in 1931-32 when the Wildcats head to St. Louis on March 19-21 for the NCAA Championships. Herbert has twice appeared in the NCAA title match and came away with his first title in 2007 with a victory over Iowa State's Jake Varner.
Below is a look at the complete list of the 2009 All-Big Ten honorees:
Mike Poeta, ILL (157)
Angel Escobedo, IND (125)
Brent Metcalf, IOWA (149)
Daniel Erekson, IOWA (HWT)
Kellen Russell, MICH (141)
Steven Luke, MICH (174)
Tyrel Todd, MICH (197)
Franklin Gomez, MSU (133)
Jake Herbert, NU (184)
Andrew Howe, WIS (165)