With Winter Quarter in full swing, most Northwestern winter sports teams have found their identity, for better or for worse. While there are only a couple squads with major relevance on the national stage, there are plenty of exciting storylines to follow. NBN Sports keeps you up-to-date with best-case scenarios for select winter non-revenue teams for the rest of the season.
Season update: Northwestern wrestling has had a difficult first part of their season going 3-6 (1-3 B1G), but the Wildcats have the talent to turn their season around. While the team has struggled in conference with just one win in their first four meets, all of their Big Ten losses came against programs ranked in the top 10. The Wildcats also have two wins against top-15 teams this season, showing their ability to compete with teams at the top. Additionally, Northwestern has two of the nation’s premier wrestlers in Sebastian Rivera (No. 1 in 125 lbs.) and Ryan Deakin (No. 3 in 157 lbs.). The two have gone a combined 35-2 this season and have a combined career record of 98-17.
Best case scenario: The Wildcats win four of their remaining six and Rivera wins the 125 lb. class. Northwestern has a difficult remaining schedule: three of the last six teams they’ll face are ranked in the top ten nationally and one other opponent is in the top 25. Northwestern has shown they have the ability to beat teams that are highly ranked, but it is unlikely that they will be able to take down three top 10 teams. The ‘Cats should be able to best Michigan State and SIUE, and an upset of No. 20 Illinois is very possible. The best case scenario for the team is if they can win those three, as well as one of their dual meets with No. 4 Iowa, No. 2 Ohio State or No. 6 Michigan. Individually, the best case scenario for Rivera is an undefeated national championship. He has been dominant this season, highlighted by an upset win over former No. 1 Spencer Lee of Iowa that shows that he can beat anybody he squares off against.
Swimming and Diving
Season Update: The Wildcats aren’t likely to have a major impact in the Big Ten Championships, but they can still make the season count. The first-years and sophomores have been impressive overall, with swimmers like Sophie Angus, Ryan Gridley, DJ Hwang, Calypso Sheridan and Tara Vovk bringing in many of the team’s best results.
Best-case scenario: They can only get better as the season progresses. It would be ideal if the women’s side could get at least three wins against their remaining four opponents, as well as if the men snagged two wins to end the season with a good finish. Star diver Olivia Rosendahl will be looking to finish her Northwestern career at the top once more. As the current two-time platform champion, she’ll be looking to defend her title at the NCAA Championships while also challenging for medals in the 1- and 3-meter dives. The amount of B-Cuts and zone standards achieved by the ’Cats is also a promising sign for the program’s future.
Season update: Coming off a relatively disappointing 2018 season by Northwestern standards, this year’s squad dropped its first four games to begin the season before defeating Auburn. Although they’ve played potential tournament teams in Memphis, Vanderbilt, N.C. State and Alabama, the three losses definitely sting for a squad that returns everybody from last season, plus freshmen Trice Pickens and Simen Bratholm. Although Coach Swan has the chops to turn this season around, he’ll have a lot of work to do.
Best case scenario: The potential is there to compete in the Big Ten; Dominik Stary started the year off with two wins, and Nick Brookes continues to grow into the number one singles role and won his first game of the year against Auburn. The key for Northwestern is the doubles point; the early momentum boost could do wonders for the ‘Cats, who have watched doubles points evaporate during some winnable games. Northwestern should be competitive in most of their matches, but they’ve yet to show the killer instinct to turn toss-ups into victories. If they can improve their doubles performance, they may secure some key wins. A mid-table finish is most likely for the ‘Cats, but the NCAA tournament may be too much to ask for this season.
Season update: After a mediocre start, the Wildcats are currently peaking. After a four-game win streak, they sit tied for fourth in the Big Ten with a 6-3 conference record (13-7 overall). Northwestern is led by Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah, who is among the leaders in the nation in double-doubles, with twelve on the season. Lindsey Pulliam and Abi Sheid have also been consistent contributors and have shown the ability to take over a game. Right now, it looks like Joe McKeown has a top-25 squad, although early-season losses keep them unranked.
Best-case scenario: The Wildcats use their current momentum to knock off Maryland next week, and turn their little four-game win streak into a nine-game streak that puts them in serious contention for a conference title. At the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Northwestern beats Rutgers and advances to the championship, but falls to Iowa. They make the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 behind consecutive 20-point performances from Pulliam, but run into UConn and drop a close game. Kunaiyi-Akpanah makes First Team All-Big Ten and gets drafted in the third round of the WNBA Draft.