March 29, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- It was evident from the very beginning that the 2005-06 season wouldn't be a typical year for Northwestern's wrestling team. The Wildcats were fresh off their best season in years, had moved into one of the finest wrestling practices facilities in the Ken Kraft Wrestling Center, returned five NCAA qualifiers, including a Midlands and a Big Ten titleholder and believed they were among the best teams in the country. The 'Cats were primed to stamp their mark as one of the premier college teams in the country. After four months, countless practices and a handful of impressive individual performances, the Wildcats have done just that. Need proof? Here is a summary of the team and individual accomplishments achieved by one of the finest squads to don the Purple & White:
Northwestern tallies five Big Ten wins, the most in over 10 seasons.
The Wildcats beat a top-five ranked team for the second-consecutive season.
Northwestern records wins over five top-25 teams.
The 'Cats send a program-best seven qualifiers to the NCAA Championships.
Senior Matt Delguyd increases his career wins to 107, giving him sole possession of ninth place on NU's all-time wins list.
Head coach Tim Cysewski moves into sole possession of second place on NU's all-time coaching wins list with 119 dual wins. He now trails only Ken Kraft's mark of 124.
Northwestern has three wrestlers - Jake Herbert, Ryan Lang and John Velez -- earn All-America honors, the most since 1998.
Jake Herbert becomes only the 11th wrestler in program history to earn multiple All-America accolades.
Jake Herbert put together a school-record 42-match winning streak dating back to the 2005 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
Jake Herbert becomes the first Northwestern wrestler in the program's 78-year history to win back-to-back Midlands titles. He earns the first-annual Midlands Champion of Champions Award and earns Big Ten Wrestler of the Week for his efforts.
Jake Herbert pins Rider's Doug Umbehauer in 17 seconds in the opening round of the NCAA Championships, giving him the fastest fall in school history.
Three Wildcats -- Jake Herbert, Ryan Lang and Mike Tamillow -- earn titles at Michigan State Open.
Ryan Lang is named Michigan State Open Most Outstanding Wrestler and is named Themat.com and Big Ten Wrestler of the Week for his efforts.
Jake Herbert is invited to wrestle at the NWCA/Marines All-Star Classic, where he tops Nebraska's fifth-ranked Jacob Klein, 8-5.
Head coach Tim Cysewski is invited as honorary coach at the NWCA/Marines All-Star Classic.
Northwestern wins dual-season opener for the fourth-straight season with 28-10 win at No. 23 Northern Illinois.
Northwestern finishes third at Reno Tournament of Champions, with Jake Herbert and Mike Tamillow claiming individual titles.
Northwestern is invited to the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals for only the second time in program history.
Wildcats beat then-No. 3 Illinois 19-16 for the first time in 10 dual matches.
Seven Wildcats - Matt Delguyd, Will Durkee, Dustin Fox, Jake Herbert, Ryan Lang, Mike Tamillow and John Velez - are ranked in the top-20 of the USA Today/NWCA/Intermat poll throughout the season.
It all started at the end of November. The Wildcats entered the season with great expectations, as they were ranked 18th according to the USA Today/NWCA/Intermat poll and received top-20 rankings by each of the major wrestling polls.
In addition, the 'Cats began the year with seven grapplers - Matt Delguyd (Mayfield Heights, Ohio/Mayfield), Will Durkee (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shady Side Academy), Dustin Fox (Galion, Ohio/Galion), Jake Herbert (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny), Ryan Lang (North Royalton, Ohio/St. Edward), Mike Tamillow (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick) and John Velez (Kings Mills, Ohio/Kings) ranked in the coaches poll.
The Wildcats started the year with an impressive showing at the Michigan State Open in November. Herbert, Lang and Tamillow each took home titles in their respective weight classes, while the Wildcats placed seven wrestlers as a team. Delguyd, Durkee and Fox each earned second place finishes while Greg Hagel (Linwood, N.J./Blair Academy) finished third and Daniel Quintela (St. Paul, Minn./Highland Park) took fifth.
For his efforts on the weekend, which included two pins, a technical fall and a decision over Michigan State's fifth-ranked Andy Simmons to earn the title, Lang was named Themat.com's Wrestler of the Week as well as Big Ten Wrestler of the Week.
The Wildcats came back to Evanston and were idle for almost a month to prepare for their first dual of the season at Northern Illinois.
There, the Wildcats won six of the last seven matches to take a dominating 28-10 over the 23rd-ranked Huskies in front of NIU alumnus and United States Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who was in attendance for the NIU Showcase Meet.
The Wildcats hosted the University of Chicago and the University of Indianapolis in their first home action of the season on December 15.
Northwestern dominated both teams in the double dual, beating Chicago 32-12, before topping Indianapolis 38-12. Delguyd, Fox, Hagel and Lang each went 2-0 on the day, but it was Herbert who had the most dominating performance.
Versus Indianapolis, Herbert faced the Greyhounds' Mike Jackson -- who was the second-ranked Division II wrestler at 174 lbs. Herbert shot early, got control and recorded the fall just 35 seconds into the match for what was then the second-fastest fall in program history at that weight class.
With the pair of wins, head coach Tim Cysewski moved Tom Jarmon into sole possession of second place on NU's all-time wins list.
Four days later, the 'Cats traveled to Reno, Nev., for the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Herbert and Tamillow each claimed their second-individual tournament titles of the season while the Wildcats again placed seven wrestlers overall. Herbert recorded two pins and a technical fall in his first three matches en route to the championship. For his efforts, he was named Big Ten Wrestler of the Week.
Velez and Degluyd each battled to second-place finishes while Fox and Durkee claimed fifth place in their respective weight classes. Lang finished the tournament in fifth place at 141 lbs.
Northwestern finished third in the team race with 118.5 points.
Two weeks later scores of wrestling fans from around the country gathered in Evanston to take part in one of collegiate wrestling's most anticipated annual tournaments, the Midlands Wrestling Championships.
At Midlands, Herbert made Northwestern wrestling history when he became the first wrestler in the program's 78-year history to win consecutive Midlands titles. Herbert topped Iowa's then-No. 3 Mark Perry 5-3 in the finals to claim the championship.
Herbert was awarded the first-ever Midlands Champion of Champions Award, which is voted on by all 10 champions during the tournament.
At 197 lbs., Delguyd finished a career-best fourth by going 3-2 overall at the tournament.
Fox placed at Midlands for the first time in his career when he took seventh place. Fox went 5-2 overall at the tournament.
In the team race, Northwestern finished 10th out of 66 teams.
With Midlands wrapped up and a new year upon them, the Wildcats buckled down for the home stretch of their schedule and the upcoming Big Ten season.
After a 35-13 rout of Eastern Illinois, the 'Cats traveled to Cedar Falls, Iowa, to participate in the largest dual meet tournament in the country, the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals. Northwestern attended the national duals, which extends invitations to only the top dual teams in the nation, for only the second time in program history and was one of 16 ranked teams in this year's field.
The Wildcats began the duals by facing then-No. 8 Iowa State. Northwestern took three of the last four matches, but suffered its first loss of the season to the Cyclones, 20-16.
The 'Cats immediately bounced back versus then-No. 19 Hofstra. With NU trailing 13-8 with only four matches remaining, Herbert pinned the Pride's then-No. 4 Mike Patrovich in 2:05, sparking the comeback for Northwestern, which won 26-13.
In their next match, the Wildcats fell to then-No. 19 Arizona State in the consolation bracket, ending their run in the duals.
After dropping the conference opener at No. 1 Minnesota, 24-11, the Wildcats bounced by taking a road win at No. 22 Wisconsin, 24-15, to even their conference record at 1-1.
Northwestern dropped its next match at then No. 4 Michigan, but responded by winning its next two, including arguably the biggest dual match in program history.
The Wildcats topped Ohio State 31-16 on February 3, a win which was highlighted by Delguyd earning his 100th-career win as a Wildcat, before heading to Rolling Meadows High School on February 5 to face in-state rival and then-No. 3 ranked Illinois. The Wildcats had lost to the Illini 10-consecutive times entering the meet, but the 'Cats were ready to pounce on the upset.
The meet started with Velez shocking the gym by pinning then-No. 3 Kyle Ott in the first match of the day.
NU then fell in four of the next five matches and trailed 13-9 entering the 174-pound weight class. There, Herbert recorded a major decision over Illinois' Donny Reynolds to tie the match and Tamillow topped then-No. 3 Pete Friedl to give Northwestern the 16-13 lead.
At 197 lbs., Delguyd was edged 2-1 by Tyrone Byrd, tying the score at 16-16 with just one weight class remaining. The stage was set for one of the most exciting and critical matches of the season.
Fox and Illinois' Matt Weight battled into the second tiebreaker session after being tied at 1-1 for a majority of the match. There, with the crowd chanting "let's go Fox," the heavyweight tallied an escape and secured the win for the Wildcats.
The win sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling community.
The 'Cats went on to win two of their next three conference matchups and finished the year 10-5, with five Big Ten wins--their most conference victories in over 10 seasons.
Northwestern entered the Big Ten tournament in Bloomington, Ind., with seven wrestlers seeded in the championships.
Herbert became NU's second Big Ten champion in as many years as he rolled into the title match and then pinned Iowa's Perry in 4:02 to claim the title.
Lang also tore through the championship bracket into the title bout, but fell to Michigan State's Simmons to earn a second-place finish.
Delguyd and Fox each took third place in their respective weight classes, while Velez took fourth, Tamillow finished sixth and Durkee took seventh, helping Northwestern to a fifth-place finish in the team race.
With seven wrestlers placing, the Wildcats sent a program-high seven qualifiers to the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City two weeks later.
There, Herbert, Lang and Velez each earned All-America honors, the most All-Americans in a single season for the 'Cats since 1998.
Herbert rolled in his first two matches, pinning his opponents in a combined 1:04. In his opening-round match, Herbert pinned Rider's Doug Umbehauer in 17 seconds for the fastest fall in school history. He then recorded two decisions to advance to the title bout. There, he fell to Missouri's top-ranked Ben Askren to earn second place.
Lang advanced to the quarterfinals before falling to Wyoming's third-seeded Cory Cooperman. Lang wouldn't give up however, and rallied in the consolation bracket to advance to the third-place match where he would meet Cooperman again. Lang fell in his final match, but the sophomore claimed a career-best fourth place finish.
Wrestling in the final tournament of his collegiate career, Velez fell in a disappointing opening-round match. Velez didn't give up, however, and stormed through the wrestleback bracket for four-consecutive wins, earning him All-America honors. Velez fell in the consolation quarterfinals, but won a thrilling match versus Stanford's Tanner Gardner to take a career-best seventh place and walk off the mat for the last time in his career with a win.
In the team race, Northwestern finished in 13th-place, one position better than last season.
While Northwestern will miss its four graduating starters, the Wildcats return two All-Americans, four NCAA qualifiers and a host of young talent to a team that is without doubt on its way to cementing its spot among the elite college wrestling programs in the nation.