April 11, 2011
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Two members of the Northwestern wrestling family defended their titles as national freestyle champions at the U.S. Open and ASICS FILA Junior Nationals events this weekend in Cleveland. Former Wildcat great and current volunteer assistant coach Jake Herbert won his third consecutive U.S. Open title at 84 kg while NU true freshman Lee Munster captured his second championship at the junior level.
By virtue of his U.S. Open championship, Herbert earns the No. 1 seed and a bye to the finals of the 2011 World Team Trials June 9-11 in Oklahoma City.
Herbert was unscored upon in his first two matches at the U.S. Open before meeting his finals opponent from a year ago, Bryce Hasseman. Herbert defeated Hasseman 9-4, 3-0, to advance to the finals against Keith Gavin, a former NCAA champion wrestler at Pittsburgh. Herbert survived a strong effort by Gavin to win 2-2, 3-2, and clinch his third U.S. Open title in a row.
“Jake has once again placed himself in an elite group,” said head coach Drew Pariano. “Very few athletes are able to win three consecutive U.S. Open wrestling titles. His training is very focused right now and the major goal is to secure a spot on the 2011 World Team and to bring home gold at the 2012 London Olympics.”
Munster, who in 2010 followed up his first FILA Junior nationals title with a second-place finish at the Junior World Team Trials, was dominant in his run to a second straight title. Munster won his semifinal match by a 6-0, 3-0 score before getting past Pittsburgh’s Max Thomusseit in the final, 2-1, 1-2, 1-1.
“Lee wrestled well and positioned himself in an outstanding situation to make the 2011 Junior World Team with this win,” Pariano said. “His motivation to win critical positions is key and he finds a way to do that time and time again.”
Two other freshmen Wildcats, Alex Polizzi (96 kg) and Pierce Harger (74 kg) were among the place-winners in the FILA Junior Nationals. Polizzi was 5-2 for the tournament and a fourth-place finisher while Harger won four wrestleback matches on his way to seventh place. Both will compete at the U.S. Junior World Team Trials with Munster in Franklin, Ind., May 19-20.
The trio of Wildcat freshmen recently completed their redshirt seasons at Northwestern where they wrestled to a combined record of 52-20 with 17 pins and seven tech falls.