Steve Bosak Reflects on Career; Joins Teammates Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz to Develop "Next Generation of National Champions"

 
 
When he arrived at Cornell, Steve Bosak knew he was joining a very talented team. But having three NCAA titlewinners in one season? That hadn’t happened in the history of Big Red wrestling.

But it all changed in March of 2012 when Bosak (184 pounds), Kyle Dake (157) and Cam Simaz (197) all came out on top at the biggest tournament of the season.

“I never would have guessed that we would have three champions in one year,” he said. “Not in my wildest dreams. It was an accomplishment that seemed nearly impossible, but we did it and it was great.”

That March night at the NCAAs in St. Louis was the last time the trio of gold medalists competed together, as Simaz graduated that spring.

But the three wrestlers are teaming up again June 8th and 9th in Bosak’s hometown of State College, Pennsylvania for the “Big Red Champs Clinic”, to pass along some of the knowledge and skills that led them to the top of the podium.

“It will be a great time,” Bosak said. “We’re really excited to do this clinic. We want to get kids motivated to work hard at wrestling, have fun and learn great technique to use throughout their careers. What’s great is that they’ll learn from three wrestlers who are different in their styles, but all found a way to win national championships.”

Wrestling has been such an integral part of Bosak’s life that he wants to make sure to pass along the skills he’s acquired along the way.

But there was a time in 2012 when the sport wasn’t close to the top of his mind. Prior to the start of the 2012-13 season, Bosak was diagnosed with a staph infection and spent time in the hospital.

“At that point in time, I took a reality check,” he said. “I knew I had to get through it and do what it took to get healthy because my life was at stake. Wrestling was on the backburner.”

But it wasn’t off his mind for long. When he was declared free of the infection, the Big Red wrestler wrestler jumped back in, hoping to get back on the mat as soon as possible. He wasn’t sure, however, whether he’d be able to return to national championship level.

“Even in November, when I was in the recovery process, there was a lot of confusion and it wasn’t clear whether I would be able to get back to my full potential by the end of the year,” he said. “I had to just keep focusing on working hard and mentally preparing.”

The confidence of those around him certainly helped. As the Grapple at the Garden event approached in December, Bosak had only two to three weeks of training under his belt. But the opportunity to compete at the famous Madison Square Garden venue against two of the nation’s top teams – Oklahoma State and Missouri – was one he couldn’t pass up. And it wouldn’t be easy, as he would be squaring off with a pair of nationally-ranked opponents – Mike Larson and Chris Chionuma – in his first action of the campaign.

“Before the Grapple took place, I told Coach Koll that I didn’t know if I would be at my best for the matches,” Bosak said. “He joked that I could be at 30% and still win by tech fall. I knew that wasn’t actually true, but it was a nice confidence boost when he put it that way. I just wanted to go out and perform for the team.”

He did that, winning both bouts.

“I was probably about 75%,” he said. “I was exhausted in the first period of both of my matches and had to mentally push through to come out on top. It was really difficult.”

But as the season progressed, it got less difficult. Bosak said by sometime in February he felt nearly 100%.

Back in peak form, Bosak set out to capture a title he had never won before (EIWA) and one he had collected in 2012 (NCAA).

The first goal on the list – the conference championship – seemingly would run through Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin, who had defeated Bosak for the EIWA crown in both 2011 and 2012.

“Hamlin’s a good buddy of mine,” Bosak said. “Sometimes, with rivals, you wind up hating each other. But I consider him a pretty good friend. But, I was hoping to get a little bit of revenge in the EIWAs. He got the better of me head to head over the years and I was hoping to have the opportunity to beat him in the finals.”

However, the rematch didn’t happen as the Mountain Hawk senior injury defaulted to sixth while Bosak cruised to the crown. With that result, the Big Red coaches expected the 184-pounder to receive the #3 seed at the NCAAs.

However, to their surprise, he was slotted into the fourth spot, bringing a possible semifinals matchup with another defending national champion, Ed Ruth of Penn State.

“What the seeding committee decided was completely surprising,” Bosak said. “Going into nationals, I felt totally disrespected. It was uncharacteristic of past seeding and we were all shocked. But I knew I had to wrestle everyone anyway, so I had to keep my head on straight and perform.”

He did that, breezing through his first three matches by a combined score of 18-1. When it came time to face Ruth in the semis, the Big Red senior was ready with his game plan.

“I felt that if I slowed down his shots from the outside and kept pressure forward, I would be ok,” he said. “I needed to dominate the ties to prevent his quick, sudden takedowns. Unfortunately, he caught me in the first five seconds. After that, I recovered and almost had a takedown on the edge that would have put me in a great position to win.”

After the 4-1 defeat, he responded like a champion, winning his consolation matches on Saturday morning to complete his career in third place. The audience showed its appreciation for the three-time All-American as he walked off the mat.

Photo by BV

“It was great to end that way,” he said. “It was also nice that I got a standing ovation from the crowd. I felt appreciated and it was an awesome experience.”

It was especially significant for Bosak because he said it was his last competitive match.

“I’ve always felt that I’m a much better folkstyle wrestler,” he said. “My style doesn’t translate well to freestyle. So I’m ready to focus on the next stage of my life.”

What is that next stage? Bosak said he is pursuing two possible paths.

“I’m heavily considering coaching,” he said. “I have a bunch of offers from college programs and I’m looking at my options. I’m also interested in marketing and have talked to some places and am going through the interview process.”

But whether it’s marketing or wrestling next year, on June 8 and 9, he’ll definitely be on the mat in State College, knee deep in the sport he loves.

“After the season, I wanted to go and give back to wrestling,” he said. “I felt that doing a clinic like this was a great opportunity to help young kids perfect technique and what better way to teach them than to have Cam and Kyle join me to share what we know?”

Going back to the community in which he grew up seemed like a natural choice for the clinic.

“The area is rich with wrestling. It’s wrestling country,” he said. “I wanted to go home to my roots and give back. There are so many people who impacted my life and career there.”

In addition, he is excited to be able to help his high school, as part of the proceeds of the camp will be donated to the State College Wrestling Booster Club.

“Our goal coming out is to have a quality camp at a cheap price [$99] with a fun atmosphere,” he said. “When it’s over, we’ll have free posters for the kids and we’ll do autographs and pictures. The three of us all have different strengths and we’ll each teach the moves that worked best for us. We want to motivate kids to work hard at wrestling, have fun and learn great technique. We want to help create the next generation of national champions.”

For more information on the Big Red Champs clinic with Steve Bosak, Kyle Dake and Cam Simaz, see this link.

Check Out Video Interviews With All Five All-Americans From NY Schools And More from the NCAAs

 
 
Check out video interviews with NY wrestlers at the NCAA tournament, including all five All-Americans from New York teams (Kyle Dake, Steve Bosak, Nahshon Garrett, Steve Santos and Mike Nevinger) and more.

 

Kyle Dake After Making History

 

Cornell’s Nahshon Garrett “Content But Not Satisfied” With Third Place at the NCAAs

 

Damion Hahn on Cornell’s Medal Round Performance at NCAAs

 

Steve Santos Takes Third at 149 For the Highest Columbia Finish Ever

 

Cornell’s Mike Nevinger Takes Fifth Place at NCAAs After a 9-2 Victory

 

Steve Bosak Finishes Off Three-Time All-American Career With Third at 184

 

Mike Nevinger – All-American Again After Five Straight Consolation Wins

 

Hofstra’s Jamie Franco – Two Straight in Overtime at the NCAAs

 

Hofstra’s Steve Bonanno After Upsetting #10 Seed in the First Round (Day 1)

 

Harvard 2012 All-American Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River) After a First Round Pin (Day 1)

 

Photo by BV

 

 

Winning Words: Garrett, Bosak, Santos and Nevinger on Being All-Americans

 
 
All four of the New York wrestlers taking part in the medal rounds on Saturday morning finished their seasons on a winning note, with third place showings for Nahshon Garrett at 125, Steve Santos of Columbia at 149 and Steve Bosak at 184.  Mike Nevinger grabbed fifth at 141 as the Big Red had at least four All-Americans (along with finalist Kyle Dake) for the ninth consecutive campaign.  Here’s a little more on the performances of each of those wrestlers this weekend.

Nahshon Garrett, 3rd at 125

The freshman from California finished off a tremendous first season for the Big Red with a third place finish at the NCAA tournament, beating two higher seeds on Saturday to get there.

Garrett in 3rd Place Match, Photo by BV

In his first match of the day he surrendered a pair of takedowns in the first and trailed 4-2 after that stanza against the fifth-seed, Jarrod Garnett.  Heading into the third, the Virginia Tech grappler led 9-6, but the Big Red freshman took control from there, immediately getting the escape and a takedown to knot the match at 9.  From there, he was dominant in the top position, riding his opponent out and racking up three near fall points along the way for the final 13-9 margin.

He then squared off with the tournament’s top seed, Alan Waters of Missouri.  The pair met twice earlier this season, with the Tiger wrestler coming out on top on both occasions.  But Garrett said he felt confident this time.

“Honestly, I knew his game plan and I knew what he was going to do,” Garrett said. “He was sitting on a knee like I knew he would. He wrestled tough, but I knew what I had to do. I figured I would ride him out. I’d been doing so well this tournament riding people out, I felt I could do that if I didn’t score points at all before that. He’s obviously really good on top. The last couple of times we wrestled, I didn’t really know how to get out. But no one was able to ride me this weekend.”

The match went as Garrett expected. After a scoreless initial period, Waters selected the down position and Garrett took control.  The California native not only rode Waters out, but also registered a pair of near fall points near the end of the second to take a 2-0 lead.

In the third, Garrett quickly escaped and tacked on a late takedown.  With riding time added, the Cornell wrestler triumphed 6-1.

The victory cemented Garrett in the Cornell record books for another reason – he’s now the Big Red single season leader in wins with 43. Who were the former holders of that mark with 42? Cam Simaz and Garrett’s current coach Mike Grey.

When Garrett was told about that achievement, he smiled.

“We were just talking about me one upping him because he took sixth his freshman year,” Garrett said of Grey. “Now that I have that record over him, it’s pretty sweet.”

So is the bronze, although Garrett admitted he has plenty left to achieve.

“[Third place] isn’t what I came here for,” he said. “I’m very content with it right now, but I’m not satisfied. I’m not going to be satisfied until I get that title.”

Mike Nevinger, Fifth at 141

Mike Nevinger said his goal coming into the tournament was to be a national champion after taking seventh a year ago.  After losing in the first round on Thursday to Virginia Tech’s Zach Niebert in overtime, which he called “heartbreaking”, he said he knew he had to put it all together to get back on the podium, both for himself and for his team.

Nevinger Takes 5th, Photo by BV

He did just that, earning fifth on Saturday with a victory over North Carolina’s Evan Henderson.

“I think it’s just toughness,” he said. “Obviously, you’re just crushed after that first loss. But you just have to regroup and know that you’re a good enough wrestler to go out there and be an All-American. You just have to go out there and wrestle. Don’t make excuses for yourself, just come back strong and go from there.  I just needed to go out and wrestle smart and wrestle my match. If I keep it tight and wrestle tough on top, I’m going to come out on top.”

In his first bout on Saturday, Nevinger was defeated by the top seed, Hunter Stieber of Ohio State.  However, in the fifth place bout, he began strong with a takedown and three back points to take a 5-0 advantage into the second.  The former Letchworth star extended his lead in the second with another takedown and after an exchange of escapes in the third, Nevinger walked away with a 9-2 win and a fifth place medal.

Nevinger went from seventh as a sophomore to fifth as a junior.  He’s looking for more in his final season as he said his goal is to be a national champion.

“All areas could use improvement,” he said.  “I definitely have to get more attacks going on my feet and work on my baseline ‘D’ like always. I know I have a lot of things to work on this summer so I can come back stronger next year.”

Steve Santos, Third at 149

Steve Santos became the highest finisher in Columbia wrestling history on Saturday when he took third at 149 pounds.

“It was a great accomplishment as an individual and for our program. It just feels awesome,” Santos said. “Columbia has a long history of wrestling and a great core following. To represent Columbia like that is a great feeling.”

Santos After Taking Third, Photo by BV

In his first contest of the morning, his opponent, Scott Sakaguchi of Oregon State struck first with a takedown, but Santos managed an escape to trail 2-1 after the opening stanza. Santos imposed his will in the second period, riding the Beaver wrestler for the entire two minutes.  In the final period, Santos took down and got right to his feet, reversing his opponent and riding him out for a 4-2 victory (with riding time) and a spot in the bronze match.

In that third place tilt, Santos once again took control, this time against last year’s NCAA runner up Dylan Ness of Minnesota.  He entered the second with a 4-2 lead and over 1:40 riding time.  In the third, Santos immediately took Ness down to increase his advantage to 6-2.  The Gopher escaped late, but the Brick, New Jersey native completed his Columbia career with a third place medal.

“I knew he likes to roll around like that, but I’m just as good in there,” Santos said of the unconventional Ness.  “I kept solid; I knew I didn’t want to let him wrestle his match. I kept my position and when he showed any vulnerabilities, I just attacked right away.”

Steve Bosak, Third at 184

It might not have been the perfect ending that Steve Bosak said he was looking for, but he finished his career on a high note by taking third place on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett.

Bosak, Photo by BV

After a scoreless first period, the four-time All-American from the MAC chose down against Bosak.  However, he never came close to escaping and was warned for stalling twice, resulting in a point for the Big Red.  There was no further scoring in the third after Bosak took neutral and the Cornell 184-pounder collected a 2-0 victory with riding time to add a bronze medal to his 2012 national championship and 2011 fourth place showing.

“I was proud of how I wrestled and finished out. I feel good,” Bosak said right after the match, adding that his ultimate goal was to repeat as an NCAA champion.

“When the seedings came out, I felt disrespected,” he said of getting the #4 spot in the bracket. “I was unsure why the seeding committee did that, but when it came down to it, I knew I had to wrestle everyone anyway to win it.”

In his first bout of the morning, Bosak came out on the offensive, getting in deep on a shot early that was defended by his opponent, Jimmy Sheptock of Maryland.  However, the Big Red senior did put points on the board in the opening stanza with a takedown and then remained on top for the remaining 50 seconds of the first.  A Bosak escape in the third was the only other scoring in the bout as the Big Red senior finished off a 3-0 decision.

Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn said Bosak will be extremely hard to replace for his squad.

“It’s emotional because we’ve been together for a long time,” he said of the 184-pounder. “He’s one of the Cornell greats. He did a phenomenal job this weekend. I know a national title is what he wanted. He fell a little short, but I don’t think anybody could be more pleased with his performance. He is a competitor, he has heart, he has every intangible thing you could want in a wrestler.  He will be greatly missed, no doubt about it.”

NCAA Session 4: Dake Earns Spot in the Finals (Again); Nevinger Joins List of New York All-Americans

 
 
Four times at the NCAAs and four times in the finals for Kyle Dake.  The 165-pounder will take on David Taylor of Penn State in the finals Saturday night after blanking Oklahoma State’s Tyler Caldwell 2-0 in the semis.  After a scoreless opening period, Dake chose down and escaped in less than 10 seconds.  Entering the third, he held a 1-0 lead and added a point for riding time after staying in the top position the entire final stanza.

Dake, Photo by BV

Dake said “it feels good to be back” in the finals.  And he’s ready for the challenge that Taylor will present.

“[Taylor’s] basically imposing his will and everyone is scared to wrestle him,” Dake said. “But I’m not scared, so I’m not going to let him do that. We both kind of know that we both have that same, similar attitude where, you know, I’m taking away his dreams and he’s trying to take away mine. That’s just how it is. It comes with the sport.”

Dake was one of three semifinalists for the Big Red – along with 125-pound freshman Nahshon Garrett and 184-pound senior Steve Bosak.

Garrett squared off with Big 10 champion Jesse Delgado of Illinois, who came out firing from the start. The Fighting Illini grappler took a lead shortly after the opening whistle with a takedown and never looked back in a 10-5 decision. He will take on Virginia Tech’s Jarrod Garnett in the morning.

Three-time All-American Bosak went toe to toe with top-seeded Ed Ruth of Penn State in the semis, however, Ruth’s first period takedown, escape and riding time gave him a 4-1 decision over the Big Red grappler.

Steve Santos of Columbia, like Bosak, faced the number one seed, as he wrestled Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State at 149 pounds.  Oliver scored early on his feet and led throughout in a 13-4 major.

While Dake, Garrett, Santos and Bosak ensured themselves spots on the medal stand earlier on Friday, 141-pounder Mike Nevinger needed a victory over Iowa’s Mark Ballweg in his first match of Session 4 to repeat as an All-American.

He got it done, beating the Hawkeye for the second time this season.

Nevinger, Photo by BV

The Big Red junior got off to a fast start, converting a Ballweg shot into a takedown of his own.  He quickly added a pair of back points and rode Ballweg out to take a 4-0 lead into the second with over two minutes of riding time.

The fireworks really started in the final stanza, when Ballweg made a furious comeback attempt, taking the Big Red wrestler down three times and earning a reversal.  However, Nevinger held on for the 12-8 win and a spot on the podium.

“It started off pretty good,” Nevinger said. “I got a takedown and a turn so I was up pretty big, 5-0, after ride time in the first period.  I wish I had closed it out a little better, but I mean, a win is a win.”

For Nevinger, it was the fourth victory in a row after losing in the opening round in overtime to Virginia Tech’s Zach Niebert.

“It was pretty heartbreaking, I mean, I came in here wanting to win,” Nevinger said of the first round loss. “I recomposed myself and I knew my team needed me. Two-time All-American is not bad at all.  I needed to come back for my team and for myself.”

Nevinger did that and kept the momentum going later Friday night when he topped Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes to ensure he will finish higher than he did a year ago when he took seventh.

Also in the Round of 12 was Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson.  The senior made a seven-match run to third place after losing in the first round in 2012.  He once again had a winning streak after an early setback in his senior campaign, however, it came to an end on Friday night.  Vinson led Oregon State’s Scott Sakaguchi for most of the match, but the Beaver grappler notched a takedown late in the third period to earn the victory.  Vinson completes his career with the Bearcats with the most wins in the history of the program as well as a plethora of additional accolades.

Maryland’s Christian Boley also came within one win of the medal stand, dropping a bout to Oklahoma State’s Blake Rosholt.

So at the end of Day 2, there are five All-Americans from New York, all of whom will finish in the top 6. Stay tuned to see where they place on Saturday.

Upcoming Matches:

125: Nahshon Garrett vs. Jarrod Garnett (Virginia Tech)

141: Mike Nevinger vs. Hunter Stieber (Ohio St)

149: Steve Santos vs. Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon St)

165: Kyle Dake vs. David Taylor (Penn St)

184: Steve Bosak vs. Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland)

NCAA Session 3: Cornell's Garrett Upsets McDonough, Joins Dake, Bosak and Santos in the Semis

 
 
4-for-4 for New York.  In the Friday quarterfinals, Columbia’s Steve Santos and the Cornell trio of Nahshon Garrett, Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak all punched their tickets to the semifinals while solidifying All-American status.  They won’t be the only Empire State wrestlers in action in the evening, however, as the Big Red’s Mike Nevinger (141), Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson (149) and former Brockport standout Christian Boley (Maryland, 197) will compete in the Round of 12, looking to make the podium.

 

Binghamton:

Vinson, Photo by BV

Donnie Vinson continued his run through the consolations, beginning the morning with a victory over Michigan State’s Dan Osterman before an impressive 12-0 major over Michigan’s Eric Grajales.  197-pounder Nate Schiedel also got off to a winning start on Friday when he handled UTC’s Nik Brown.  In his second contest, he took an early lead against Iowa’s Nathan Burak, however, the Hawkeye followed by hitting a headlock and registering the fall.

133-pounder Derek Steeley was eliminated in the morning session with a loss to Maryland’s Geoff Alexander.

Upcoming Match

149: Donnie Vinson vs. Scott Sakaguchi (Oregon State) – Round of 12

 

Buffalo:

John-Martin Cannon endured a significant injury in his first match of the tournament, a victory over 12th seeded Mathew Miller of Navy.  He continued to battle, beginning his consolation action on Friday with a 3-2 tiebreaker win over Cal State Bakersfield’s Bryce Hammond.  After finishing regulation knotted at 1 and a scoreless sudden victory period, Cannon notched a reversal to move ahead 3-1.  Hammond later escaped, but it wasn’t enough.

Cannon next took the mat against Ohio’s Cody Walters.  The Bobcat got on the board first with a first period takedown and the wrestlers later traded escapes, resulting in a 3-1 decision for Walters.

 

Columbia:

Steve Santos became the school’s first All-American since Matt Palmer in 2007 when he defeated Air Force’s Cole Von Ohlen in the quarterfinals.  The Columbia senior avenged a loss to Von Ohlen at last year’s NCAAs.

The Ivy Leaguer took a 4-1 lead into the third period, where he brought his riding time advantage to over two minutes.  However, late in the stanza, his opponent escaped and then picked up a takedown with less than 20 seconds to go to make it 4-4 on the scoreboard.  Santos’s riding time was the difference in the 5-4 decision.

EIWA finalist Matt Bystol and senior Stephen West each collected a victory in their first trip to the NCAAs, before completing their seasons on Friday.

Upcoming Match

149: Steve Santos vs. Jordan Oliver (Oklahoma State), Semifinals

 

Cornell:

Garrett, Photo by BV

The Big Red wrestlers combined for a 5-0 record during Session 3, including a sweep of quarterfinal matches by Nahshon Garrett, Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak.  Garrett took on three-time NCAA finalist Matt McDonough of Iowa at 125 and fell behind 2-0 on a late first period takedown.  However, he got a key escape with just seconds left in the period to trail 2-1 after the opening stanza.  Garrett selected bottom and after McDonough notched just over a minute of riding time, the Cornell freshman got out to tie the score at 2.  Going into the third, the Hawkeye chose down and Garrett put on a dominant performance from the top position, riding the two-time NCAA champion out and forcing overtime.  (Garrett wound up with 58 seconds of riding time).

Garrett wasted little time in the sudden victory period, going on the offensive and earning the takedown to win a dramatic 4-2 match.

“I wasn’t nervous,” Garrett said. “I was much more excited than nervous. I didn’t think any of the pressure was on me.  I just went out there and wrestled.  I shot a couple of doubles earlier and got to his body. That last one [in sudden victory] was just a matter of strength and finishing.  It was just an awesome experience.”

There was far less drama for Kyle Dake at 165, as he controlled his bout against Virginia’s Nick Sulzer from the opening whistle.  Dake had his way in all three positions as he triumphed 13-0 in a match that was never in doubt. The win ensured that Dake will be a four-time All-American, although he’s shooting for loftier goals.

Steve Bosak made it two wins for the Big Red over the Hawkeyes on Friday morning when he defeated Ethen Lofthouse at 184.  After a scoreless first, Lofthouse chose bottom and Bosak went to work, remaining in control for the entire two minutes.  In the third, Bosak escaped quickly and added a takedown. With riding time tacked on at the end, the final score was 4-1.

Mike Nevinger made it three in a row in the wrestlebacks with a fall against Chris Mecate of Old Dominion in his opening action on Friday, followed by a 7-2 win over Missouri’s Nick Hucke later on.  The latter win avenged a loss to the Tiger at the Grapple at the Garden.

Upcoming Matches

125: Nahshon Garrett vs. Jesse Delgado (Illinois), Semifinals

165: Kyle Dake vs. Tyler Caldwell (Oklahoma St), Semifinals

184: Steve Bosak vs. Ed Ruth (Penn St), Semifinals

141: Mike Nevinger vs. Mark Ballweg (Iowa), Round of 12

 

Hofstra:

Steve Bonanno and Jamie Franco began Friday with victories in the wrestlebacks.  Bonanno topped Cal State Bakersfield’s Tyler Iwamura 7-4 while Franco triumphed in overtime for the second straight time when he reversed North Carolina’s Joey Ward in the tiebreakers to win 3-1.  Both completed their NCAA runs in the next round, however as Minnesota’s David Thorn topped Bonanno and Central Michigan’s Scotti Sentes defeated Franco at 133. Luke Vaith also completed his season on Friday, against Missouri’s Nick Hucke.

 

Additional New York Natives in the Field

Boley, Photo by BV

Christian Boley of Maryland collected a pair of victories on Day 2 to earn a spot in Session 4 Friday evening.  He first upended Arizona State’s Jake Meredith 6-3 before over Phil Wellington of Ohio.

Upcoming Match

Christian Boley (Maryland) vs. Blake Rosholt (Oklahoma St), Round of 12

It's Time: NCAA Division I Brackets Revealed; Dake the Top Seed at 165

 

It’s Time! The NCAA released the brackets for the championships in Des Moines, Iowa starting next week. You can find them here.

The following are the wrestlers with New York ties going to the tournament. (Combination of wrestlers from New York Colleges and New York High School wrestlers).  If any are missing, please feel free to comment below.

125 Pounds
Brown, Billy Watterson (John Jay)
Buffalo, Max Soria (Kings Park)
Cornell, Nahshon Garrett (Chico, CA)
Hofstra, Steve Bonanno (Wantagh)

133 Pounds
Binghamton, Derek Steeley (Broken Arrow, OK)
Bloomsburg, Nick Wilcox (Greene)
Columbia, Matt Bystol (Libertyville, IL)
Hofstra, Jamie Franco (Monroe Woodbury)
North Carolina State, Sam Speno (Fox Lane)

Rider, Jimmy Morris (St. Anthony’s)

141 Pounds
Army, Connor Hanafee (Monsignor Farrell)
Cornell, Mike Nevinger (Letchworth)
Harvard, Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River)
Hofstra, Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN)

149 Pounds
Army, Daniel Young (Culver Academy, IN)
Binghamton, Donnie Vinson (Whitney Point)
Buffalo, Blake Roulo (Matoaca, VA)
Columbia, Steve Santos (Brick, NJ)
Cornell, Chris Villalonga (Blair Academy, NJ)
Ohio State, Ian Paddock (Warsaw)

157 Pounds
Columbia, Jake O’Hara (Crestwood, PA)

165 Pounds
Army, Paul Hancock (Fordson, MI)
Bloomsburg, Josh Veltre (Greece Olympia)
Buffalo, Mark Lewandowski (Lancaster)
Columbia, Josh Houldsworth (Holly, MI)
Cornell, Kyle Dake (Lansing)
Edinboro, John Greisheimer (Wantagh)
Indiana, Ryan LeBlanc (Morrisville-Eaton)

174 Pounds
Buffalo, John-Martin Cannon (Brockport)

Columbia, Stephen West (Buchanan, CA)

184 Pounds
Binghamton, Cody Reed (Walton)
Cornell, Steve Bosak (State College, PA)

197 Pounds
Army, Bryce Barnes (Kempsville, VA)
Binghamton, Nate Schiedel (Caledonia Mumford)
Cornell, Jace Bennett (Amarillo, TX)
Maryland, Christian Boley (Brockport)

285 Pounds
Cornell, Stryker Lane (Norwood, CO)

Penn, Steven Graziano (Syosset)

 

Or By College

Army

141 – Connor Hanafee; 149 – Daniel Young; 165 – Paul Hancock; 197- Bryce Barnes

Binghamton

133 – Derek Steeley, 149 – Donnie Vinson; 184 – Cody Reed; 197- Nate Schiedel

Bloomsburg (NY Natives Only)

133 – Nick Wilcox (Greene), 165- Josh Veltre (Greece Olympia)

Brown (NY Natives Only)

125 – Billy Watterson (John Jay)

Buffalo

125 – Max Soria; 149 – Blake Roulo; 165- Mark Lewandowski; 174- John-Martin Cannon

Columbia

133 – Matt Bystol; 149 – Steve Santos; 157 – Jake O’Hara; 165 – Josh Houldsworth; 174 – Stephen West

Cornell

125 – Nahshon Garrett; 141 – Mike Nevinger; 149 – Chris Villalonga; 165 – Kyle Dake; 184 – Steve Bosak; 197- Jace Bennett; 285-Stryker Lane

Edinboro (NY Natives Only)

165 – John Greisheimer (Wantagh)

Harvard (NY Natives Only)

141 – Steven Keith (Shoreham Wading River)

Hofstra

125 – Steve Bonanno; 133 – Jamie Franco; 141 – Luke Vaith

Indiana (NY Natives Only)

165 – Ryan LeBlanc (Morrisville-Eaton)

Maryland (NY Natives Only)

197 – Christian Boley (Brockport)

North Carolina State (NY Natives Only)

133 – Sam Speno (Fox Lane)

Ohio State (NY Natives Only)

149 – Ian Paddock (Warsaw)

Penn (NY Natives Only)

285 – Steven Graziano (Syosset)

Rider (NY Natives Only)

133 – Jimmy Morris (St. Anthony’s)

 

 

"Making History and Moving On to Bigger and Better Things": Cornell Captures Seventh-Straight EIWA Title as Dake Named OW

 
 
Last year, the EIWA team championship wasn’t decided until the very last match, when American’s Ryan Flores topped Lehigh’s Zach Rey in overtime to clinch a 2.5 point victory for the Big Red over the Mountain Hawks.

This time, there was far less suspense. The Big Red led Navy by 17 points heading into the final session and finished 24.5 points ahead of the Midshipmen in the standings. In the process, Cornell became the first team to ever win seven consecutive EIWA crowns.

“We’re pretty happy with the weekend,” said head coach Rob Koll. “Seven in a row is better than six, that’s for sure. We lose two national champs next year [Kyle Dake and Steve Bosak], which will make it harder to get our eighth in row next year. But we return the other eight placewinners and that’s a pretty good start.”

Dake, Photo by Lindsey Mechalik

Leading the way for the Big Red were a trio of champions. Dake maintained his season-long dominance with a 20-5 technical fall against Columbia’s Josh Houldsworth after two pins and a major decision in his first three contests.

While it was Dake’s third EIWA title, it was the first conference crown for freshman Nahshon Garrett and 2012 NCAA champion Steve Bosak.

Garrett got the last session off to a good start for his team with a 6-1 decision over Mark Rappo of Penn in the 125-pound title bout. The Ivy League Rookie of the Year had defeated the Quaker in the tiebreakers earlier in the season.

“It was a great experience, wrestling here this weekend,” Garrett said. “I knew in the finals that he would do some of the things he did the last time we wrestled, like staying on a knee. I did better against it but I know there are still some things I need to work on.”

Right before his interview, Garrett was in charge of carrying the team hardware out of the arena and onto the team bus.

“That trophy is bigger than him,” Koll said, laughing. “Nahshon did well. But the truth is, it’s hard for me to be satisfied with Nahshon, because my expectations for him are just so high.”

The same could be said for Bosak, who took second the previous two seasons at this event, losing in the finals to Lehigh’s Robert Hamlin. The third consecutive EIWA title bout between Bosak and Hamlin didn’t happen as the Mountain Hawk grappler injury defaulted in the semifinals to Mason Bailey of Navy.

Bosak then defeated Bailey 7-1 to earn his spot atop the medal stand. The outcome not only earned a crown for the Big Red senior, but carried implications for the NCAA tournament.

“It was nice for Steve to get that title,” Koll said. “It’s no secret that we don’t want to see Ed Ruth [of Penn State] until the finals, if we can get there. So, we came in knowing that Hamlin needed to lose for that to happen. You don’t want to see medical forfeits at this time of year. I would have preferred that Steve beat Hamlin on the mat. But a loss is a loss. [Hamlin] was losing at the time of the forfeit and I think that will be reflected in the seedings.”

Several other Cornell wrestlers will be thinking about the seedings over the next few weeks as four more punched their tickets to Des Moines. Both Mike Nevinger (141) and Jace Bennett (197) grabbed third, while Chris Villalonga (149) and Stryker Lane (285) were fourth on the podium.

Nevinger lost a tight bout in the semifinals to Franklin & Marshall’s Ricky Durso, the eventual champion. He then fought back to bronze position with some late match heroics. On Saturday morning, he won in sudden victory over Lehigh’s Anthony Salupo and later on, he defeated Harvard’s Steven Keith 3-0 on the strength of an escape and takedown late in the match.

“Mike lost a tough one, but [Durso] is a really good kid who’s very funky,” Koll said. “[Nevinger] didn’t lose that match, Durso found a way to beat him. That happens sometimes. Hopefully, it doesn’t happen again in Iowa.”

While Nevinger’s loss was in the semis, Bennett dropped his quarterfinal bout in the 197 bracket. However, he came storming back, with four consecutive wins, including a pin and a major.

“I’m really proud of the way Jace bounced back all the way to third,” Koll said. “He has made significant improvements this season despite his ups and downs. He’s a guy who is capable of doing some real damage at Nationals.”

Koll believes the same could be said for Villalonga and Lane. The 149-pounder sustained a deep cut over his eye, according to the coach and injury defaulted in the third place bout after winning 7-1 over Ken Theobold of Rutgers earlier in the day to secure his place in Des Moines.

Lane, who was hampered by injuries late in the season, responded to a quarterfinal loss on Friday to earn his first NCAA bid. The heavyweight won three straight in the consolations, including an exciting 8-7 tiebreaker victory over top seed Billy Smith of Rutgers. In that match, Smith had Lane on his back, close to a pin, before the Big Red wrestler fought back to tie the bout and send it overtime.

“Stryker’s a tough kid,” Koll said. “He may not be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest heavyweight in the country, but he has more heart than anyone. We get everything he has every time he goes out there. The good news is that he’s going to Nationals.”

Hoping to join Lane and the rest of Cornell’s qualifiers is 157-pounder Jesse Shanaman, who took sixth in heartbreaking fashion. He lost in sudden victory to Scott Winston of Rutgers in a bout that determined who would pick up the last EIWA automatic bid at that weight.

“There were a lot of positives this weekend and I know our team, alumni and fans are excited about the championship,” Koll said. “But it’s first our NCAA qualifier and I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get more than seven guys through to NCAAs. I really thought Jesse had back points at the end of his match against Winston. I think the only person who didn’t think so in the whole gym was the referee. We’re still hoping he’ll get a wildcard.”

Photo by Lindsey Mechalik

The Big Red earned several additional honors; or more accurately, Dake did. In addition to being named the tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler, he collected the Fletcher Award for most points scored in a career at EIWAs and the Sheridan Award for most falls in the least time. One honor that didn’t go Cornell’s way was EIWA Coach of the Year. And that didn’t sit well with assistant coach Damion Hahn.

“The EIWAs have been wrestled for over 100 years and in that time no team has ever won seven times in a row. What Rob [Koll] did with this team was make history and I think it’s a travesty that he didn’t receive recognition for it. Do you give the Outstanding Wrestler award to someone who almost wins? I have tremendous respect for Bruce Burnett, who is a great coach. Navy did a phenomenal job this weekend and the whole year. Hats off to them. But I think the EIWA coaches made the wrong call.”

Hahn also acknowledged, however, that his disappointment with that decision was one of few negatives over the two-day period for the Big Red.

“Everyone wrestled tough and it showed with all 10 of our guys placing,” Hahn said. “Some guys are disappointed in how they did, but for the most part, we can’t complain. We’re walking away with our seventh title in a row and we’re walking away virtually healthy. That’s a good weekend. Now, we’re on to bigger and better things.”

EIWA Preview: Can Cornell Make It Seven In a Row? Who Will Star For Columbia and Army?

 
 
Wrestlers and coaches always emphasize that what counts the most is performing in March.  Well, March is upon us.  This weekend, wrestlers from all six Division I schools in New York will try to earn their spots at the 2013 NCAAs in Iowa with strong showings at the EIWA, CAA and MAC Championships.  The following is a look at the EIWA event, which will be held at Rutgers University. (We will discuss the other tournaments separately).

Note: We may provide a live blog of all mats at the EIWAs, as we did last year. Please check back at LIVE BLOG link.

Returning EIWA National Champions:

Kyle Dake, Cornell (2012 Champion at 157, now at 165)

Steve Bosak, Cornell (184)

Returning EIWA All-Americans:

Mike Nevinger, Cornell (141)

Steven Keith, Harvard (All-American at 133, now at 141)

Walter Peppelman, Harvard (157)

Robert Hamlin, Lehigh (184)

Micah Burak, Penn (197)

 

Cornell has won six EIWA crowns in a row.  Will the Big Red make it seven?  The squad certainly has the firepower to do it, but has a few more question marks than in recent years. There are a number of teams who have the balance to make legitimate runs at the big trophy. Cornell, Rutgers and Navy all have seven wrestlers pre-seeded in the top 4 of their weights, while Lehigh has five such grapplers, all pre-seeded in the top 2.

Let’s take a quick weight-by-weight look at what we’ll see in New Jersey on Friday and Saturday:

125: (Four automatic bids to NCAAs)

Photo by BV

Nahshon Garrett, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, has had a stellar freshman campaign.  Currently ranked sixth nationally, he will be the top seed.  One of his few close victories this year was an overtime battle with former EIWA runner up Mark Rappo of Penn.  The two are favored to meet again in the finals on Saturday although some other wrestlers, such as Joey Langel of Rutgers, could throw a wrench in the works.

NY Storyline(s):  Garrett has beaten everyone he’s faced all year – except the #1, 2 and 3 grapplers nationally (Alan Waters, Matt McDonough and Nico Megaludis).  The first time Garrett and Rappo met this season, the Penn grappler wrestled much of the bout on one knee to counter Garrett’s quickness.  However, the Cornell rookie’s mat wrestling led him to victory.   We think it will again.

133: (Two automatic bids)

This weight has only two automatic qualifying spots, the fewest of any class in the conference.  The race for those slots seems wide open.  Perhaps the favorites are Vinny Dellafave of Rutgers and Randy Cruz of Lehigh, the top two pre-seeds.

NY Storyline(s): Jordan Thome wasn’t pleased with his seventh place finish at the 2012 EIWAs but wrestled well at the NCAAs, picking up a pair of victories. He is a multi-time national qualifier and will no doubt push to finish his career at the season’s biggest event.  Cornell’s Bricker Dixon had an effective weekend at the National Duals Regional in Ithaca, topping a pair of solid wrestlers in Jamie Franco of Hofstra and Shawn Nagel of Nebraska.  He also has a quality win over Lehigh’s Cruz. The pair could meet in the semifinals. 

Matt Bystol of Columbia dropped to 133 in early February and won four of five contests, according to the NWCA Scorebook, including a decision over Dixon.  The way this weight class is, any of those Empire State grapplers could make the finals and get tickets to Iowa.

141:  (Seven automatic bids)

While 133 offers just two guaranteed berths to Des Moines, 141 has seven.  And that’s an accurate reflection of the quality of this class. Leading the way are a pair of returning All-Americans, Mike Nevinger and Steven Keith.  Nevinger, the runner up at the EIWAs last year at this weight, registered two wins over Keith earlier this season.  The Harvard wrestler and Long Island native has been very impressive lately, however, including victories over a pair of contenders, CJ Cobb of Penn and Anthony Salupo of Lehigh in February.  (Cobb topped Nevinger in dual meet action).  Not to be forgotten are Trevor Melde of Rutgers, Richard Durso of Franklin and Marshall and another New Yorker – Connor Hanafee of Army.  The former CHSAA star can battle with anyone, as he did while making the medal stand at the Southern Scuffle.

NY Storyline(s):  New York should be well represented here.  We see a trio of Empire State high school stars – Nevinger (Letchworth), Keith (Shoreham Wading River) and Hanafee (Monsignor Farrell) all heading to Nationals after high podium finishes.

149: (Four automatic bids)

Last year’s EIWA finalists, Shane Welsh of Lehigh and Kevin Tao of American, are back, as are the third and fourth place finishers – Chris Villalonga of Cornell and Steve Santos of Columbia.   The return of those medalists should make for an exciting class.

NY Storyline(s): Santos and Villalonga split a pair of bouts a year ago, but didn’t meet in the dual between their teams in 2013.   If pre-seeds hold, they could square off in the semifinals.

However, another Empire State resident has the potential to take the title as well – Daniel Young of Army.  The Black Knight didn’t qualify a spot for the conference, but he has some significant victories, including over All-Americans Cam Tessari of Ohio State and Derek Valenti of Virginia. (He’s also topped Tao and Villalonga this season and earned the third pre-seed as a result).  We expect to see all three make the trip to Des Moines.

157: (Five automatic bids)

Photo by BV

Scott Winston of Rutgers has been an EIWA finalist each of the past two years.  He isn’t the top seed, however. In fact, he’s pre-seeded at number four.  That’s largely because of accomplished grapplers in this class ranked high nationally – Walter Peppelman of Harvard and Joey Napoli of Lehigh. Meanwhile, Columbia’s Jake O’Hara and Navy’s Bobby Barnhisel have also appeared in the polls during 2012-13.

NY Storyline(s): O’Hara won a pair of matches at Nationals last year and is looking to improve upon his 2012 fifth place showing at EIWAs. Cornell’s Jesse Shanaman has had an up and down season but had Peppelman on the ropes as time expired in Cambridge.  His defense and toughness on the mat give him the ability to pull some upsets and grab a qualifying spot.

165:  (Five automatic bids)

Kyle Dake is a two-time EIWA champion and a three-time NCAA champion.  This bracket is reasonably filled with solid wrestlers, but none on Dake’s level.

NY Storyline(s): Dake is, of course, the big one.  But Army’s Paul Hancock has been solid as a rock all year long for the Black Knights.  He has compiled a 28-9 record and placed at the challenging Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. We expect to see both make the trip to the Midwest in a couple of weeks. The question is whether Josh Houldsworth of Columbia (pre-seeded at #7) can join them as a possible sleeper.  The Lion wrestler has won nine of 11 bouts in 2013, with his only setbacks coming to Penn’s Casey Kent, the #3 preseed, by a 1-0 score and by fall to Dake.

174: (Four automatic bids)

Like at 133, there isn’t a clear favorite at this weight.  Mat Miller of Navy, Greg Zannetti of Rutgers, Nate Brown of Lehigh and Stephen West of Columbia have all had very strong seasons.   All are in the top 21 of the final Coaches’ Panel rankings.

NY Storyline(s): Can Stephen West get his first bid to the NCAAs?  The Columbia coaching staff was surprised he was not awarded an at-large bid to the NCAAs a year ago after a solid campaign and a fifth place EIWA showing. He has followed up with a better senior season and hopes to represent the Lions in Iowa.

Last year’s 165 pound bronze medal match at EIWAs featured an overtime win for Army’s Coleman Gracey over Cornell’s Marshall Peppelman.  Peppelman recently got the starting nod for the Big Red after a season-long battle with freshman Duke Pickett while Gracey didn’t take the mat for the Black Knights until the second half of the campaign.  Neither wrestler is pre-seeded in the top five, but both are capable of strong runs this weekend to earn return trips to the NCAA tournament.

184: (Five automatic bids)

Will we get to see another installment of Steve Bosak vs. Robert Hamlin?  The past two seasons, the two-time All-Americans have met for the EIWA crown.  Both times, the Lehigh grappler used late heroics to take the title. The two are on another collision course and this one could have major implications for not only the team race but also for seeding in Des Moines.  Presumably neither wants to be in the path of Penn State’s Ed Ruth.

NY Storyline(s): Bosak is a national champion but hasn’t collected an EIWA title.  Can he add that honor to his resume this weekend in New Jersey?

197: (Five automatic bids)

Cam Simaz stood on top of the podium at this weight for the past four years. The last three times, his titles came at the expense of Penn’s Micah Burak.  Now as a senior, the Quaker is the favorite to finally get over the hump and take first place.

NY Storyline(s): Jace Bennett is one of the more exciting upperweights to watch in the nation.  27 of his 38 matches have ended as bonus point affairs – some for and some against.  Nick Mills came tantalizingly close to qualifying for nationals two years ago at the EIWAs and has one last chance this weekend.  On the other end of the spectrum, this will be the first shot for Army freshman Bryce Barnes, who has 22 victories in his rookie campaign. A year ago, Army’s Derek Stanley rode a great conference tournament to the NCAAs at this weight.  Barnes could do the same.

285: (Four automatic bids)

Photo by BV

This is one of two classes without a top 20-ranked wrestler (along with 133).  So, who will emerge?  Both Stryker Lane of Cornell and Dan Miller of Navy have placed at EIWAs in the past. Meanwhile, Billy Smith of Rutgers and Blake Herrin of American have both been consistent and effective throughout the campaign and as a result entered as pre-seeds number one and two. 

NY Storyline(s): Colin Wittmeyer of Army has placed in the EIWA tournament in the past.  After spending the early part of the season at 184, he recently has seen action at 285 and enters in the ninth spot.

Cornell’s Lane sustained an injury during the Harvard meet, but came back on the mat to register a late reversal and near fall to clinch the dual victory for his team.  He returned several weeks later and fought through the pain to ensure the Big Red went to the second weekend of the National Duals in Minnesota.  The number three pre-seed, he should be back and ready for Cornell.

For the pre-seeds for this year’s tournament, see here.

Cornell's Kyle Dake Earns Ivy League Wrestler of the Year; Nahshon Garrett Named Top Rookie

The All-Ivy Teams were announced on Wednesday and New York was well represented.

Cornell picked up the two big individual awards when senior 165-pounder Kyle Dake won his first Ivy League Wrestler of the Year Award and 125-pounder Nahshon Garrett earned Rookie of the Year honors.  It was the fifth consecutive time that a Big Red team member won the Wrestler of the Year trophy.

Photo by BV

Dake has been dominant throughout his 28-0 season, including pinning all five of his Ivy opponents, while Garrett also registered a 5-0 mark in conference action with four of those victories by bonus points.

Both Dake and Garrett were unanimously chosen to the All-Ivy first team.  Other New York wrestlers joining them were Cornell’s Steve Bosak (184) and Jacob Aiken-Phillips (285), Columbia seniors Steve Santos (149) and Stephen West (174) and former Shoreham Wading River High School star Steven Keith (Harvard, 141).

Quite a few wrestlers with ties to the Empire State made the All-Ivy second team as well.  They include Cornell’s Chris Villalonga (149) and Stryker Lane (285) and Columbia’s Jake O’Hara (157) and Matt Bystol (133).  In addition, Syosset’s Steven Graziano (Penn, 285) and Carmel’s Ryan Osleeb (Harvard, 133) also earned spots on the squad.

For the full list of the first, second and honorable mention All-Ivy teams, see below:
FIRST TEAM ALL-IVY
*Nahshon Garrett, Cornell (Fr., 125 – Chico, Calif.) – Rookie of the Year
*Jeff Canfora, Penn (So., 133 – East Hanover, N.J.)
Steven Keith, Harvard (Sr., 141 – Shoreham, N.Y.)
Steve Santos, Columbia (Sr., 149 – Brick, N.J.)
*Walter Peppelman, Harvard (Sr., 157 – Harrisburg, Pa.)
*Kyle Dake, Cornell (Sr., 165 – Ithaca, N.Y.) – Wrestler of the Year
*Stephen West, Columbia (Sr., 174 – Fresno, Calif.)
*Steve Bosak, Cornell (Sr., 184 – State College, Pa.)
*Micah Burak, Penn (Sr., 197 – Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Jacob Aiken-Phillips, Cornell (So., 285 – Lawrenceville, Ga.)

SECOND TEAM ALL-IVY 
Mark Rappo, Penn (Sr., 125 – Holland, Pa.)
Matt Bystol, Columbia (Jr., 133 – Libertyville, Ill.)
Ryan Osleeb, Harvard (So., 133 – Carmel, N.Y.)
C.J. Cobb, Penn (So., 141 – Williamstown, N.J.)
Chris Villalonga, Cornell (Jr., 149 – Totowa, N.J.)
Jake O’Hara, Columbia (Sr., 157 – Mountaintop, Pa.)
Casey Kent, Penn (Fr., 165 – Norristown, Pa.)
Ian Korb, Penn (So., 174 – Cincinnati, Oh.)
Ophir Bernstein, Brown (So., 184 – Allen, Texas)
James Fox, Harvard (So., 197 – Plainfield, N.J.)
Stryker Lane, Cornell (Sr., 285 – Redvale, Colo.)
Steven Graziano, Penn (Jr., 285 – Syosset, N.Y.)

HONORABLE MENTION ALL-IVY
Jeff Ott, Harvard (Fr., 125 – Chelmsford, Mass.)
Bricker Dixon, Cornell (So., 133 – Kansas City, Mo.)
Mike Nevinger, Cornell (Jr., 141 – Perry, N.Y.)
Zach Bintliff, Princeton (Sr., 149 – Gladstone, Mo.)
Jesse Shanaman, Cornell (Jr., 157– Blairstown, N.J.)
Giuseppi Lanzi, Brown (Jr., 165 – Amsterdam, N.Y.)
Cameron Croy, Harvard (Jr., 174 – Brentwood, Tenn.)
Canaan Bethea, Penn (Jr., 184 – Trenton, N.J.)
Jace Bennett, Cornell (So., 197 – Amarillo, Texas)
Nick Gajdzik, Harvard (Fr., 285 – Rochester, Mich.)

* Unanimous selection

Cornell Wins 11th Straight Ivy Title, Comes Back to Beat Hofstra; Plus Army, Binghamton and Buffalo Results

Cornell picked up two dual victories on the road on Saturday, including a 29-12 win over Columbia in the evening that sealed the Big Red’s 11th consecutive Ivy League championship.

Midway through the opening match against Hofstra it looked like a weekend sweep might not be in the cards as Cornell faced a 15-3 deficit going into the intermission.

Freshman Nahshon Garrett had given the Big Red a 3-0 lead after defeating returning All-American Steve Bonanno 3-1 to begin the dual, however, Hofstra registered wins in the next four bouts. Jamie Franco edged Bricker Dixon at 133 in the tiebreakers, Luke Vaith dominated in the top position in a 5-0 victory over Mike Nevinger at 141, Cody Ruggirello got the crowd excited with a pin over Ryan Dunphy at 149 and Tyler Banks outlasted Jesse Shanaman in multiple overtimes at 157.

“I’m not going to lie – it was a little nerve-racking,” said Cornell assistant coach Damion Hahn. “We definitely didn’t expect to be down like that.  The first five weights, there was a stubbornness in how we wrestled.  It was like the definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  There were the same mistakes again and again.  We went back to the locker room and talked about making changes in the next five matches.”

There was an immediate difference after the break. With his team needing a boost, three-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake took the mat and delivered with a first period pin against Nick Terdick.

“Any time you start with Kyle Dake, you’ll get the momentum going,” Hahn said. “He was dominant as usual and got us what we needed.”

Peppelman, Photo by BV

With the deficit now a more manageable six points, the Big Red’s Marshall Peppelman took the mat against Jermaine John at 174 pounds.

The Pride sophomore held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, but Peppelman notched a pair of takedowns, including one with less than five seconds to go, to capture the pivotal bout by a 5-3 score.

“We saw 174 as a toss up match going in,” Hahn said. “Marshall fell behind but he wrestled hard and stayed focused for the entire match. People don’t get to see how powerful Marshall is because he usually doesn’t take too many risks. But the people in the arena [at Hofstra] saw how explosive he can be.  I mean, he hit a double in the middle of the mat and drove [John] all the way to the edge where he finished.  And then with time running out, he hit another strong attack. In the past, he stopped when his shot was defended. In that match, he showed confidence and finished for the win.”

Cornell trailed 15-12 but it was smooth sailing from there, beginning with a quick fall for defending NCAA champion Steve Bosak at 184 against Taras Luzhnyy.

“I told Steve we needed six right before he went out there and he got the job done,” Hahn said. “I couldn’t be happier with what our veterans, Kyle and Steve, have been doing for us.”

And sophomore Jace Bennett followed suit with a pin of his own.

“Jace has been focused on some key aspects of his wrestling, especially not getting sloppy on top,” Hahn said. “We know he has a lot of talent. He can take down anyone in the country. When he gets on top, he has to focus on not rushing the legs. He needs to get to a good ride, in a dominant position and not force the legs.  That’s gotten him into trouble.  He did a good job staying in control.”

In the final match, Jacob Aiken-Phillips was in a battle with Hofstra senior Paul Snyder when the Pride wrestler injury defaulted.

“The last time [Aiken-Phillips] wrestled Snyder he lost to him at the Binghamton Open last year,” Hahn said. “He’s really good on the mat and when he got on top, he was riding really hard.  I felt like he was gaining momentum.  Unfortunately, Snyder got hurt.”

So, despite some shaky moments early, the Big Red captured the dual by a seemingly comfortable 30-15 score.

“Those last five guys came out and performed when we needed them to,” Hahn said. “Maybe they were a little angry about the first five and rightfully so.  But there are definitely positives we can take away from winning at the end.”

Those positives carried over to the second meet of the day in New York City as the Big Red brought the Ivy title back to Ithaca for the 11th time in a row.

To watch videos of all 10 matches of Cornell vs. Columbia see this link.

Photo by BV

The Big Red never trailed as Garrett opened the event with an 11-1 major decision over Penn Gottfried. Leading the way for Cornell with pins were Dake and Bosak, with Bennett picking up a major at 197.  Mike Nevinger (141), Chris Villalonga (149) and Aiken-Phillips all got their hands raised as well.

In the most dramatic bout of the night, Columbia senior Stephen West recorded a third period fall over Duke Pickett at 174.  The Big Red freshman led for most of the match, but with little time left in the final stanza, West threw Pickett to his back and grabbed six points for the home team.  Also winning for the Lions were Matt Bystol at 133 and Jake O’Hara at 157.

The victory capped off another undefeated conference season for Cornell and 11 straight years at the top of the Ancient Eight.

“We’re a little bit spoiled because we’ve had so many great kids over the past 11 years,” said Cornell head coach Rob Koll. “Sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of not appreciating the accomplishments.  We’ve had more losses this year, but we need to be thankful for the victories and not focus only on the defeats. We’re happy to be Ivy League champions again but we know that we have a lot of work to do to get our seventh EIWA title in a row, get to the finals weekend of the National Duals and perform the way we want to at NCAAs.”

Army Hosts All-Academy Championships, Navy Takes First

Army took fourth at the 19th Annual All-Academy Championships held in West Point on Saturday.  The Black Knights were led by four second place finishers – Jordan Thome (133), Tyler Rauenzahn (141), Paul Hancock (165) and Bryce Barnes (197).

Taking bronze for Army were John Belanger (149) and Patrick Marchetti (157).

Navy finished atop the team standings on the strength of seven individual gold medalists.

For more on the All-Academy Championships, see here.

American Tops Binghamton; Kent State Edges Buffalo

Nationally-ranked 149 pounder Donnie Vinson notched another quick pin and Nate Schiedel picked up a technical fall at 197, but it wasn’t enough as American topped the Bearcats, 26-14 in Washington D.C..  Also getting his hand raised for Binghamton was Cody Reed, who won by decision at 184.

For more on the Binghamton dual, see here.

Meanwhile, Buffalo got off to a strong start against Kent State with five wins in the first six bouts.  However, in the 174-pound match, John-Martin Cannon was forced to injury default and the Golden Flashes won the remainder of the contests, including a major decision and a pin to capture a 22-19 triumph.

For more on the Buffalo dual, see here.