EVANSTON, Ill. -- No. 25 Northwestern (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) came away with a defining win over No. 10 Virginia Tech (0-2, 0-0 ACC) on Sunday afternoon in wrestling's home opener at the new Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Wildcats never trailed en route to winning, 20-16.
The Wildcats won four out of their first five matches, starting the dual in tremendous fashion.
Junior Shayne Oster pulled out one of the most impactful wins of his Wildcat career, a 8-7 overtime victory over No. 13 Ryan Blees. Oster survived a handful of back-against-the-wall scenarios and gutted out the win to expand NU's team score lead to seven points.
"The guys fought -- fought for seven full minutes," said head coach Matt Storniolo. "Guys like Shayne Oster, that, really easy to hang your head there at the end, you give up a takedown with just a few seconds left. You could feel sorry for yourself and pack it in, but Shayne fought his tail off, finds a reversal there, puts it into overtime, and keeps the match going. That's a critical win for us."
Redshirt sophomore Sebastian Rivera started his 2018-19 campaign in dominant fashion, notching a 19-6 major decision to put four points on the board for the Wildcats. Redshirt first-year Yahya Thomas wrestled his first match at home in his NU career and grinded out a 2-1 victory over Mitch Moore.
Redshirt sophomore Ryan Deakin commanded a 14-7 decision over B.C. LaPrade to give the Wildcats a 10-point advantage heading into the break and extending NU's winning skein to three-straight bouts.
After a win at 165 pulled the visitors within four, redshirt senior Johnny Sebastian, ranked 13th in the nation, topped VT's Cody Hughes in a decision to push NU's lead back to seven points.
Two-straight victories for Virginia Tech at 184 and 197 knotted the contest at 16 team points apiece with just the heavyweight bout remaining, leaving the Wildcats' fate up to redshirt senior Conan Jennings.
The 11th-ranked wrestler in the nation at 285, Jennings validated the mark with a dominant performance to seal the victory. He racked up nine points in the second period and ended with a 12-0 win by major decision.
"It's great to see Conan wrestle in the way we know he can wrestle," said Storniolo. "He's doing a great job in the wrestling room, and we're confident the results will follow."
The result was Northwestern's first top-10 victory since dominating No. 8 Illinois, 22-11, on Feb. 17, 2008.
The Wildcats will be back in action on Friday, November 30, when they travel to Las Vegas for the two-day CKLV Invitational.
125: #2 Sebastian Rivera (NU) maj. dec. Joey Prata (VT), 19-6 | NU 4, VT 0
133: #16 Korbin Myers (VT) dec. Colin Valdiviez (NU), 6-4 | NU 4, VT 3
141: Yahya Thomas (NU) dec. Mitch Moore (VT), 2-1 | NU 7, VT 3
149: Shayne Oster (NU) dec. #13 Ryan Blees (VT), 8-7 (TB-1) | NU 10, VT 3
157: #5 Ryan Deakin (NU) dec. B.C. LaPrade (VT), 14-7 | NU 13, VT 3
165: #12 Mekhi Lewis (VT) Fall Anthony Petrone (NU), 3:55 | NU 13, VT 9
174: #13 Johnny Sebastian (NU) dec. Cody Hughes (VT), 6-1 | NU 16, VT 9
184: #5 Zack Zavatsky (VT) Tech. Fall Brendan Devine (NU), 24-9 (5:50) | NU 16, VT 14
197: #17 Tom Sleigh (VT) dec. Zack Chakonis (NU), 4-2 | NU 16, VT 16
One point deduction assessed to Virginia Tech head coach during 197 bout
285: #11 Conan Jennings (NU) maj. dec. John Borst (VT), 12-0 | NU 20, VT 16