April 4, 2007
Northwestern Wrestling Final Notes
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by Kyle Adams
Northwestern Media Services
EVANSTON, Ill. -- For Northwestern wrestling, it was a year to remember. A cliché? Maybe. But clichés are often apt for seasons like this.
With a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships, the team matched the program's best finish and Jake Herbert (Wexford, Pa./North Allegheny) won his first NCAA title and the school's first since 1990. Northwestern also boasted four All-America recipients in Dustin Fox (Galion, Ohio/Galion), Ryan Lang (North Royalton, Ohio/St. Edward), Mike Tamillow (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick), and Herbert for the first time since 1990.
At the Big Ten Championships, Herbert, Lang, and Tamillow won titles in their respective weight classes. It was the first time Northwestern had three individual Big Ten champions since 1931 and the first time the school had multiple individual champions since 1990.
The 'Cats started making history early. At the inaugural ACC/Big Ten Clash in Chapel Hill, N.C., on the campus of the University of North Carolina, head coach Tim Cysewski became the winningest coach in program history with 125 dual wins. Northwestern dominated their duals against Virginia, North Carolina, and North Carolina State.
The Wildcats continued their hot early-season stride with wins over Northern Illinois and Eastern Illinois before ending 2006 at the 44th Midlands Championships at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Lang and Tamillow won titles at the Midlands in the absence of Herbert, leading Northwestern to a third-place finish. It was the first time Northwestern won multiple titles at the Midlands since 1964.
Herbert returned for the National Duals against Cornell, Iowa, Missouri, West Virginia, and Central Michigan. In his first match since Nov. 20, he notched a major decision over Chance Litton and led Northwestern to a 28-14 victory over West Virginia. Freshman Brandon Precin (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) also contributed with a 4-0 decision over Scott Stuart.
After a loss to No. 1 Missouri, the Wildcats fought back to finish eighth -- the first time NU placed at the National Duals. Herbert was named Most Outstanding Wrestler for his efforts.
Despite subsequent uneven performances against Big Ten competition, the Wildcats ended the season with strong home victories over Purdue and Michigan. Herbert, Lang, and Fox all contributed with pins to lead Northwestern to a 31-13 victory over Purdue. They won a hard-fought 20-14 victory over No. 23 Michigan to close the season.
At the Big Ten Championships, Herbert, Lang, and Tamillow won individual titles. It was Herbert's second title and Lang and Tamillow's first. Herbert was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the Championships. Precin and Nick Hayes (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Lewis Central) finished seventh at 125 lbs. and 174 lbs. respectively, earning trips to the NCAA Championships.
Northwestern started strong at the NCAA Championships with Herbert, Lang, Tamillow, and Fox advancing to the quarterfinals on the first day of competition.
In the quarterfinals, Lang fought back from an 8-3 deficit in the first period with a quick pin to defeat North Carolina State's Darrion Caldwell.
Herbert won a 16-6 major decision over Navy's Antonio Miranda in his second match. Tamillow defeated Maryland's Hudson Taylor, 10-4. He turned a 3-3 tie into a 7-3 advantage, and added another takedown to seal the victory.
Fox endured a fiercely contested match against Missouri's Mark Ellis. He fought back from an early deficit to take a 4-2 lead. His takedown in the third gave him the 6-5 victory.
On the second day of competition, Northwestern solidified four All-America honors and Herbert and Lang advanced to the finals. Fox and Tamillow earned their first All-America honors. Lang earned All-American for the second time and Herbert earned his third honor.
In the semifinals, Lang endured another tight match, but prevailed, 3-2, over Rider's Don Fisch to earn a trip to the finals.
Herbert continued his dominance with a 13-4 win over Michigan's Tyrel Todd. He jumped out to a quick lead with four points on a takedown in the first period.
In the finals, Herbert completed a perfect 32-0 season with a 6-1 victory over the six-seed, Iowa State's Jake Varner.
Despite falling to UC Davis' Derek Moore in the finals, the second-place finish marked Lang's finest NCAA Championships performance to date. Lang and Herbert ended the season a combined 61-1.
The team used the final day to vault Oklahoma State and end the Championships in fourth place, the program's best finish since fourth place finishes in 1932 and 1990.
As the 'Cats move into Herbert, Fox, Lang, and Tamillow's senior years under the steady leadership of Coach Cysewski and the Wildcat coaching staff (Andrew Pariano, Ryan Bertin and Bill Scherr) they'll look to build on the success of 2006-07. Regardless of the outcome, though, this team has staked out an enduring place in history.