No. 23 Northwestern wrestling picked up their first win of the season on Sunday afternoon with a 20-16 upset of No. 10 Virginia Tech at the new Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats took an early lead with wins in four of the first five matches, and the Hokies weren't able to recover.
Northwestern’s Sebastian Rivera showed why he is the No. 2 nationally ranked wrestler in his weight class when he won started off the match with a win. Yahya Thomas, Shayne Oster and No. 5 Ryan Deakin won their matches to put the ‘Cats in front 13-3. Oster’s 8-7 upset win over Virginia Tech’s No. 13 Ryan Blees was a key turning point in the meet.
Following the Deakin win, Virginia Tech fought back, winning four out of the next five matches. However, the Hokies took a a one-point penalty hit for a mat control violation, resulting in a tie at 16 points each heading into the final match of the meet.
No. 11 Conan Jennings wrestled Virginia Tech’s John Borst to decide the meet, and Jennings dominated the match 12-0 to earn Northwestern 12 points and their first top-10 victory since 2008.
With this win, Northwestern quieted doubts that the team's winning last season was a fluke after their season-opening upset loss to North Dakota State. In their only matchup against a top-10 team in their breakout 2017-18 campaign, Northwestern was slaughtered, 33-2, at the hands of No. 7 Iowa.
Northwestern (1-1) will look to continue their winning ways when they head to Las Vegas on Nov. 30th to participate in the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, a wrestling tournament with over 30 other schools. The ‘Cats will look for an opportunity to knock off a team like No. 2 Ohio State or No. 5 Michigan to add another signature win to their resume and move further up the rankings.