EDWARDSVILLE – SIUE wrestling's first win of the 2015-16 season is a historic one.

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SIUE defeated Northwestern 28-18 Sunday night for their first win against a Big Ten wrestling program since Jan. 11, 1989, when the Cougars bested Illinois 27-13 at the Vadalabene Center.

"We've talked a lot of about consistency and it doesn't matter who you wrestle," said SIUE Head Coach Jeremy Spates. "That's why you wrestle. That's why you play sports. It's to figure who is the best guy that day. Now I think our guys realize they can go out and wrestle anybody."

The Cougars, which hope to use this momentum as they begin Southern Conference action next Sunday at Chattanooga, improved to 1-4 this season while the Northwestern Wildcats dropped to 1-4.

"Our guys wrestled hard throughout the match so it was a nice win for the team," said Spates.

SIUE opened up its scoring with a key victory from Nate Higgins at 165 pounds. Higgins weighed in at 157 pounds but was bumped up a weight class by Spates.

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"He actually went up last weekend against Indiana and did a great job getting a win there too," said Spates. "He's really wrestling well. He struggled a little bit at the beginning. He's figuring some stuff out, and that was a big win for us."

Higgins opened up a 5-1 lead in the first period with a pair of takedowns and a penalty point from Northwestern's Luke Norland. Higgins would add two more takedowns as well as riding time in the win.

Derek Nagel turned in the most impressive performance of the night for the Cougars at 184 pounds, blanking Regis Durbin 11-0 for a major decision. Nagel put Durbin on his back in the first period and controlled the tempo for the rest of the match.

"Derek Nagel did a good job at 184," said Spates. "I think that's the most dominating win he has had."

Chris Johnson earned SIUE's tightest win of the match, a 3-2 victory over Conan Jennings at heavyweight. Spates said the two wrestlers went to triple overtime last season at the Midlands, and Johnson picked up the edge this season.

With both wrestlers picking up escapes to start the scoring, Johnson recorded the crucial takedown in the third period to improve his season record to 8-5.

"That was a really nice win for Chris as well," added Spates.

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