Heavyweight wrestler acknowledged for achievements



Northwestern heavyweight wrestler Mike McMullan practices with 184 lb wrestler Jacob Berkowitz at Anderson Hall on Thursday, February 6th.

By Media Relations Editor & Associate Editor

Mike McMullan, a junior journalism and political science major at Northwestern University, was named the Big Ten Conference’s Wrestler of the Week on Jan. 14, the Wildcats’ first weekly award in more than a year.

The last Wildcat named Wrestler of the Week was Jason Welch on Jan. 2, 2013.

Heavyweight McMullan’s Jan. 10 win against the reigning NCAA wrestling champion and former No. 1 wrestler in the nation Tony Nel- son was a factor in his selection and rise to top ranking heavyweight. Nelson and McMullan wrestled in Big Ten and National champion- ships before, but Nelson had always won. McMullan said his win is im- portant for his collegiate career and puts him in a great position to win an individual national title.

“Being able to do that in front of the home crowd and in front of the fans was awesome and a huge boost to my confidence,” McMullan said. “It was a huge mental win for me.”

Originally behind McMullan by one point, Nelson sent the match into overtime but lost when Mc- Mullan managed an offensive take- down to secure the lead.

“In heavyweight matches, it comes down to the offensive take- down,” McMullan said. “I was con- fident in my ability to score an of- fensive takedown, and I was able to finish out on top.”

Drew Pariano, Northwestern’s head wrestling coach, said he val- ues McMullan’s talents and be- lieves he can be a factor in a team run for the Big Ten title.

“[McMullan] is an anchor of the team but he is also the leading point scorer in tournaments,” Pari- ano said. “He’s confident and knows how he is going to win the match. When you’re No. 1, everyone wants to come after you, and that’s where he wants to be.”

Pariano said he keeps McMul- lan’s practice regimen varied be- cause he finds that it helps keep him focused. According to the Wildcat’s head coach, McMullan’s practices in high school were more orches- trated while the collegiate routines are more varied.

“He’s an intelligent student ath- lete,” Pariano said. “He needs dif- ferent [practice] partners. He needs varied approaches. We never run the same practice for him two days, three days in a row.”

Jacob Berkowitz, a sophomore at Northwestern, practices and spars with McMullan. Despite Berkow- itz being in the 184-weight class, he said practicing with heavyweight Northwestern’s Mike McMullan (bottom), who is ranked No. 1 heavyweight in the nation, practices a take down Feb. 6 on teammate Jacob Berkowitz at Anderson Hall, 2003 Sheridan Road.

McMullan helps improve his game. “[Wrestling McMullan] is tough, but at the same time it’s a great learning process,” Berkowitz said. “I’m wrestling with one of the best guys in the country at any weight. You have to go into it with the mind- set that it’s going to be hard but you’re going to learn.”

Berkowitz said he admires several things about McMullan, most notably his effect on Northwest- ern’s wrestling team. Berkowitz said McMullan is an inspiration to his teammates.

McMullan’s intelligence and his college pursuit has always been a major influence in his life. He said he originally planned on attending one of the Ivy League institutions but opted to attend Northwestern because it is a school with a more competitive athletic conference and a great academic reputation.

“For me, growing up, I [held] aca- demics to a high standard,” McMul- lan said. “Being able to get the Ivy level education while competing in the best athletic competition out there is an awesome combination.”