The score of Northwestern (4-10, 2-7 B1G) wrestling’s dual meet vs. No. 24 Illinois was tied at nine as the Wildcats’ Zack Chakonis and the Illini’s Andre Lee began the second period of their 197 pound bout. Chakonis started on top but with 1:50 left in the period Lee rose to his feet while Chakonis had his arms wrapped around Lee’s shoulders.
Chakonis then pulled Lee to the ground, flipped him over and pinned Lee’s shoulders to the mat while the fans in Welsh-Ryan Arena rose to their feet. The ref crawled in nearly half a circle around the two wrestlers, then smacked the mat and blew his whistle indicating a pin and six points for the Wildcats.
Chakonis’s pin gave the Wildcats key momentum in their 25-12 win over the Illini Friday evening. Northwestern won seven of ten matches in the meet to break their five-meet losing streak.
The first Wildcat win came from No. 3 Ryan Deakin (157) who beat No. 13 Eric Barone 6-1 for Deakin’s ninth ranked win of the season. Tyler Morland (165) and Johnny Sebastian (174) followed Deakin’s victory with wins of the own to give Northwestern a 9-3 lead.
No. 12 Conan Jennings (285) followed the Chakonis pin with a 1-0 win, and No. 1 Sebastian Rivera (125) defeated No. 13 Travis Piotrowoski 14-5. Rivera’s win was his seventh against a ranked opponent this season, and he is still undefeated when wrestling at 125 lbs.
Alec McKenna (141) finished the meet with a 7-4 win against Abdullah Assaf to finish off Northwestern’s upset victory, their third win ranked win of the season. The ‘Cats will finish their regular season and celebrate Senior Day on Saturday at 2 p.m. with a home meet against SIUE.