By Betsy Veysman
Binghamton came within one second of beating #9 Oklahoma earlier this week when 197-pounder Cody Reed couldn’t quite secure the winning takedown as time expired against Keldrick Hall in a 20-15 dual loss. The Bearcats came even closer on Sunday night to defeating a highly ranked opponent when they lost a 22-21 decision to #4 Cornell on tiebreakers in a televised meet at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.
When Binghamton heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski earned a 15-3 major over Big Red senior Maciej Jochym in the final bout of the evening, the dual score stood at 21-21. The two squads were even on bouts won (5) and total combined falls and technical falls (2), so the deadlock was broken on the third tiebreaker, total match points. Cornell tallied 80 points to Binghamton’s 71.
“That was more stressful than we hoped,” said Cornell head coach Rob Koll a few hours after the event ended. “We didn’t think we matched up particularly well with them and they’re a good team, so we knew it would be close.”
The squads traded decisions in the first three bouts of the evening, with Frank Perrelli and Mike Nevinger notching seven-point wins for the Big Red and Bearcat Patrick Hunter picking up a 10-7 victory over Cornell freshman Nik Pena at 133.
“We thought we gave up some points at the first few weights that we were counting on,” Koll said. ”We gave away the major at 125 with no time on the clock when they were credited with an escape and then couldn’t quite get the major at 141. Nik got headlocked in his match early on and had a deep hole to climb out of at 133. He gave everything he had to come back but he couldn’t quite pull it off.”
The home team then captured momentum in front of a crowd of over 1,000 with a pair of bonus point wins. Fourth ranked Donnie Vinson earned a technical fall over Chris Villalonga at 149 before eighth ranked Justin Lister beat Craig Eifert by fall at 157 for a 14-6 Bearcat lead at the intermission.
“Chris gave up the tech at the buzzer. We can’t give up those types of points,” Koll said. “After that tech and pin, we thought we were in trouble.”
So it was time to turn to two-time national champion Kyle Dake, who sat out of the Big Red’s two victories on Saturday due to an injury. With his team needing a big victory, he came off the bench at 165 to pin Joe Chamish in the third period to cut the deficit to 14-12.
“We didn’t really want to wrestle Kyle,” Koll said. “But we didn’t want to lose either.”
At 174, in a matchup of two bumped up 165 pounders, Matt Kaylor downed Marshall Peppelman 8-4 to extend the Binghamton lead to 17-12. With Binghamton favored at heavyweight, the Big Red needed #3 Steve Bosak and #1 Cam Simaz to win with bonus points.
They delivered. Bosak put four on the board for the Big Red with an 8-0 major decision over Nate Schiedel and Simaz followed with a 22-6 technical fall over Reed to give the visitors a 21-17 advantage. The Big Red 197 pounder secured back points with just seconds left in the match to turn a four-point technical fall into a five pointer.
“Once we lost at 74, holy cow,” Koll said. “Now we have to major a very good kid at 184 and get a tech or a pin at 197 to be comfortable. But our leaders came through for us today. Frank [Perrelli] gave up a silly escape at the end to take away a major but he wrestled really well otherwise. Kyle [Dake] and Cam [Simaz] overcame guys who were stalling so badly to not give up backs or a pin. Steve [Bosak] majored a good wrestler. What our leaders did was enormous.”
“There were also some other things that were positive, like Pena fighting hard off his back for two minutes. Maciej kept us in the dual although, frankly, he caused me a great deal of angst. I might have been happier if he just stayed on his belly,” Koll continued with a laugh.
The Big Red lineup had a different look this weekend in the three dual wins over Pennsylvania, Princeton and Binghamton. Koll expects that to change.
“We need to get everyone back to the right weights and we’ll be a much stronger team,” Koll said. “We also will be adding Nick Arujau to the mix soon. We also expect more from some guys who are too talented to lose the way they did. They’re great kids off the mat, but they need to be a little greater on the mat.”
Meanwhile, despite their first two dual losses of the year in the matches assistant coach Frank Beasley dubbed “The Clash of the Titans”, the Bearcats showed over the past seven days that they are without a doubt on the rise. After all, the Big Red beat Binghamton 35-3 in Ithaca a year ago.
“They have some real horses on that team,” Koll said. “They have a really nice team that matched up with us today just right. It seemed like the perfect storm was there for the upset, but we had just enough to win.”