Junior Jordan Thome and sophomore Ryan Bilyeu recorded pins, and four other Black Knights won bouts as the Army wrestling team defeated Bucknell, 27-12, in an EIWA dual match Tuesday evening inside Gillis Field House.
Army, which has won five consecutive dual matches, improves to 8-5 (5-1 EIWA). Bucknell, meanwhile, dropped its fourth straight dual match and sees its record dip to 3-15 (2-3 EIWA).
“It feels great to win,” said Army head coach Joe Heskett. “It was nice to watch these guys execute on the mat and do the things that they’re working on. There are a lot of good things to take away and build off of as we approach the end of the season.”
Bucknell assumed an early 3-0 advantage in tonight’s contest after Austin Miller took a 13-7 decision from Army freshman Scott Filbert in the 125-pound matchup. Miller fell behind Filbert, 2-0, early in the first period before taking control of the bout.
The Black Knights quickly erased their deficit, however, as Thome pinned Shawn Armato in two minutes, 45 seconds at 133 pounds. Thome’s pin, which got the crowd into the match, helped Army seize a 6-3 lead.
The Bison knotted the score at 6-6 following Derrik Russell’s 4-1 victory over Army sophomore Tyler Rauenzahn in the 141-pount bout. Russell trailed 1-0 at the beginning of the third period before recording an escape and a takedown to assume a 3-1 edge midway through the final stanza. He added an additional point for riding time to account for the final margin.
Army responded once again in the 149-pound matchup as Bilyeu pinned Alex Pellicciotti in 2:48. The second-year grappler took Pellicciotti to the mat and refused to let him back up.
The Black Knights extended their advantage to 15-6 as senior co-captain Jimmy Rafferty earned a hard-fought 12-10 decision opposite John Regan at 157 pounds. Rafferty trailed 7-3 after the second period before a furious third-period rally knotted the score at 10-all following regulation time. The Haddon Heights, N.J., native capped his comeback by taking Regan to the mat late in the first sudden victory period.
“It’s a great feeling to get a win, especially on Senior Night,” said Rafferty. “It was my last chance to wrestle at home, and I love it. You always want to go out and win and do your best, and I was proud to represent my teammates tonight.”
Bucknell inched to within 15-9 after Corey Lear slipped past Army freshman Cole Gracey in the 165-ound bout. Gracey led 3-2 entering the third period, but Lear scored a two-point reversal midway through the final frame to earn the victory.
The Bison trimmed the Black Knights’ lead to 15-12 as Bucknell’s Stephen McPeek’s secured a 6-2 win versus Army junior Collin Wittmeyer at 174 pounds. The bout was tied at 2-2 after two periods, but McPeek dominated the final stanza en route to the victory.
That was as close as Bucknell would get, though, as Army won the final three weights to seal the victory.
Army senior Michael Gorman pushed the Black Knights’ lead to 18-12 by taking a 5-1 decision from Jamie Westwood in the 184-pound bout. Gorman held a tenuous 1-0 edge following the first two periods, but reeled off a pair of takedowns in the final frame to earn the win.
Fellow senior Derek Stanley clinched the match for Army by defeating Tyler Lyster, 6-3, in the 197-pound match. The fourth-year wrestler parlayed a pair of takedowns and a two-point reversal into the victory, which gave the Black Knights an insurmountable 21-12 cushion.
Senior Daniel Mills was awarded a win by forfeit in the heavyweight bout to cap the scoring.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Michael, Derek and Daniel,” said Rafferty of his fellow seniors. “They are closer friends than I could have ever dreamt of, and I’m just so happy that we were able to come out here tonight and beat Bucknell. To do it on Senior Night in front of our families was really special.”
Army returns to action on Friday, Feb. 17, when the Black Knights travel to Annapolis, Md., to face arch-rival Navy. The annual Star Match is set to get under way at 7:30 p.m.
Match Notes: Army’s all-time record versus Bucknell improves to 9-2 … tonight’s victory snapped the Black Knights’ two-match losing skid to the Bison … it marks Army’s first victory over Bucknell since Nov. 24, 2008, and first home win over the Bison since Nov. 20, 2007 … Army’s eight wins this season are the most since the 2008-09 team compiled a 10-6-2 overall mark … the Black Knights’ five EIWA victories this season are the most since the 2007-07 squad piled up six conference wins … Army’s seniors were honored prior to tonight’s match in a special Senior Night ceremony … the Black Knights started four seniors this evening, and the quartet combined to post a perfect 4-0 mark …Jordan Thome recorded his 11th pin of the season, moving into a tie for 14th place on Army’s single-season list … it also marked his 26th career pin, moving him into sole possession of 10th place on the Black Knights’ all-time ledger … Tyler Rauenzahn made his dual match debut in this evening’s contest … Ryan Bilyeu’s pin was the first of his career … Thome and Jimmy Rafferty are tied for the team lead with 23 wins apiece … Rafferty paces the team with 10 dual match victories … Rafferty’s 23 wins are a new single-season career best … Cole Gracey saw his 12-match win streak snapped … it marked Gracey’s first loss since Jan. 1, 2012, at the Southern Scuffle … Collin Wittmeyer made his first appearance since wrestling at the Northeast Duals on Nov. 26, 2011 … Michael Gorman has won nine of his last 12 bouts … Derek Stanley has won four straight matches and nine of his last 11 bouts …Daniel Mills has won three straight bouts and six of his last seven matches since beginning the season 0-9.
Army 27, Bucknell 12
125: Austin Miller (B) dec. Scott Filbert, 13-7
133: Jordan Thome (A) pinned Shawn Armato, 2:45
141: Derrik Russell (B) dec. Tyler Rauenzahn, 4-1
149: Ryan Bilyeu (A) pinned Alex Pellicciotti, 2:48
157: Jimmy Rafferty (A) dec. John Regan, 12-10 (sv1)
165: Corey Lear (B) dec. Cole Gracey, 4-3
174: Stephen McPeek (B) dec. Collin Wittmeyer, 6-2
184: Michael Gorman (A) dec. Jamie Westwood, 5-1
197: Derek Stanley (A) dec. Tyler Lyster, 6-3
285: Daniel Mills (A) wins by forfeit