IU wrestling picked up its first win of the season against Northwestern on Saturday in Evanston, Illinois. After losing to No. 3 Penn State earlier in the day, IU took down Northwestern 18-16 and improved to 1-3 on the season.
The Hoosiers fell to the Nittany Lions 24-15 in the first dual of the day, securing their most points against Penn State since a 17-17 tie in 2009. Sophomores Graham Rooks, DJ Washington and Nick Willham picked up regular decisions for the Hoosiers, and a 6-point forfeit in the 125-pound weight class brought IU’s point total to 15.
Both meets for IU came down to the last match at heavyweight, and sophomore Jacob Bullock was able to pick up a 7-2 win in the last match for the Hoosiers.
IU was down 16-15 in team score heading into the match, and Bullock’s win added 3 team points and secured the 18-16 win against the home team.
“I just asked him ‘Are you ready to take this opportunity?’ and he said yes,” IU head coach Angel Escobedo said. “So that’s what we were talking about beforehand, and he made the most of it, he really did.”
Washington had a huge day for the Hoosiers, winning both his matches and taking down Penn State’s Carter Starocci, who is ranked No. 5 in the 174-pound weight class. Washington took a 10-1 lead against Starocci in the first period and was able to hold on for a 10-9 win. He is now 3-1 on the season.
“He can score from any position, and he showed that this weekend,” Escobedo said. “He can take you down, he can throw you, he can turn you, so I’m really looking forward to seeing him progress forward.”
Making his return to the lineup, redshirt sophomore Graham Rooks went 1-1 on the day. Rooks won against No. 14 junior Jarod Verkleeren from Penn State and lost to No. 15 redshirt junior Yahya Thomas from Northwestern, who Rooks beat twice last year.
“It’s a tough conference, so you keep running into the same guys and you just have to make adjustments,” Escobedo said.
Freshman Jacob Moran filled in for injured senior Brock Hudkins in the 125-pound weight class and fought hard in his dual-match debut. After a forfeit from Penn State, Moran’s only action was against No. 7 redshirt sophomore Michael DeAugustino.
Moran held his own against DeAugustino, who placed third at the Big Ten Championships and earned the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Championships last season. Ultimately, Moran fell 3-5 to DeAugustino, but the freshman fought hard and kept the match close.
“I think he started to believe too late in the match,” Escobedo said. “You have to believe right away.”
Sophomores Cayden Rooks, Matt Ortiz, Nick South and Nick Willham all split their matches and went 1-1 for IU.
Redshirt junior Kyle Luigs lost to No. 3 junior Roman Bravo-Young from Penn State and No. 23 redshirt freshman Chris Cannon from Northwestern, but he was able to keep the matches close and only gave up 3 team points each.
The Hoosiers will return home for a quad-meet on Feb. 6 at Wilkinson Hall and face off against No. 17 Rutgers, No. 25 Michigan State and No. 7 Nebraska. Those three teams have a combined 4-5 record this season.