Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open Recap: Garrett Defeats Megaludis; Cornell Sends Eight to the Finals and Much More

Around 400 wrestlers competed on Sunday at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open at Binghamton, including some of the best wrestlers in the country.  In one of the most highly anticipated matches of the weekend, #3 Nahshon Garrett of Cornell topped #2 Nico Megaludis of Penn State in the championship bout at 125 pounds.  The Big Red and Nittany Lion wrestlers saw a lot of each other, meeting in six of the finals matches.  In fact, the two schools accounted for nine of the 10 champions (six for Penn State and three for Cornell).

(A recap of many other weekend events is here).

Here’s a quick glance at the weights:

125 Pounds:

Garrett, Photo by BV

Last year at the NCAAs, Nahshon Garrett avenged earlier losses to Iowa’s Matt McDonough and Missouri’s Alan Waters.  After dropping a close decision to Megaludis at the Southern Scuffle last year, however, Garrett didn’t get another shot at the Nittany Lion.  That opportunity came on Sunday and Garrett took full advantage with a 7-4* decision that ended a 5-0 day for the Big Red sophomore.  Garrett also had two majors and two technical falls along his path.

New York Note: Binghamton’s David White earned fourth, winning four times on Sunday.  In addition, Connetquot’s Sean McCabe (Rutgers) made the top six.  (Only first and third place matches were contested).

133 Pounds:

The talk prior to the tournament was about a showdown between Cornell’s Mark Grey and Penn State’s Jimmy Gulibon, two wrestlers currently in the top 10 nationally.  However, Grey capped off a strong tournament with a 3-1 finals victory over another Nittany Lion – Jordan Conaway.  (Conaway topped Gulibon in the semis, the same round during which Grey beat #16, Geoff Alexander of Maryland, by a 7-0 score).

New York Note: Two 2013 NYS champions looked solid in their first college tournaments.  Sacred Heart’s TJ Fabian (Shoreham Wading River) went to the top 6, racking up a 4-2 mark with two majors and a fall.  He beat Bobby Rehm of Lock Haven, a placer at this event in 2012, along the way.  Meanwhile, Binghamton’s Nick Tighe also captured four victories in his debut for the Bearcats.

141 Pounds:

Penn State freshman Zain Retherford had a strong start to his career with a title at this weight, defeating Lehigh’s Will Switzer for gold.

New York Note: Binghamton’s Dylan Caruana lost his initial contest on Sunday morning, but came back to win four straight in the consolations before losing to eventual third place finisher Adam Krop of Princeton.  New York native Patrick Hogan followed a similar road, losing his first match before taking five in a row, including over highly-regarded Rutgers rookie Anthony Ashnault.

149 Pounds:

It came down to Big Red vs. Big Red.  Cornell teammates Chris Villalonga and Alex Cisneros both won their first five matches of the day to make the title bout.  Villalonga had two pins and two majors, while Cisneros also collected four bonus wins.  Villalonga took the title by forfeit.

New York Note: Binghamton’s Joe Bonaldi followed up a first place showing at 141 at last year’s Bearcat Open with a bronze finish in 2013 at his new weight.  To earn a spot in the bronze bout, he topped Cortland’s Bobby Dierna, another New York wrestler who had a solid day.  Dierna, a Division III All-American in 2013, had two pins and two majors.

157 Pounds:

Boston’s Nestor Taffur was the only champion not from Cornell or Penn State on Sunday.  He edged James Vollrath of the Nittany Lions, after placing second at this event last year to Cornell’s Brian Realbuto.

New York Note: Speaking of Realbuto, the Big Red freshman had an eventful day, beginning with a technical fall and pin.  He was then upset by Anthony Perrotti of Rutgers, but bounced back well, with four consecutive falls in the consolations and then a six-point decision over Perrotti to reach the third place match. Also reaching that match was Cornell’s Taylor Simaz, who won five bouts (four by bonus).  There was no contest, however, as Realbuto and Simaz double forfeited. Perhaps we will see them compete at next weekend’s Big Red wrestle-offs.

2013 NYS state champion Tyler Grimaldi of Harvard (and Half Hollow Hills West) looked good in the opening event of his career for the Crimson, grabbing four victories.  He earned his way to the quarterfinals before dropping an 11-10 decision to eventual champion Taffur.

165 Pounds:

#1 David Taylor blitzed his way through the field as expected.  In the championship match, he pinned Cornell’s Craig Eifert.  Eifert had won three straight to make the finals, including over Mitch Wightman of Boston and Jake Kemerer of Lock Haven.  Of the three candidates mentioned by head coach Rob Koll a few weeks ago for the 165 starting job, Eifert was the only one to take the mat on Sunday. (Dylan Palacio and Marshall Peppelman are the others).

New York Note: The previously mentioned Wightman, from Warwick Valley in Section 9, earned a fourth place finish on Sunday with five victories.

174 Pounds:

Returning NCAA finalist Matt Brown of Penn State took care of business, defeating Cornell’s Owen Scott to win the bracket.  Scott, a sophomore who missed all of last season with injuries, went 5-1 for the Big Red in his return to the mat.

New York Note: Scott wasn’t the only Cornell wrestler at 174 to end the day with only one loss.  Jesse Shanaman, moving up from 157 pounds a year ago, nabbed third with a 6-1 mark.

184 Pounds:

Like fellow top-ranked teammate David Taylor, Ed Ruth won it all on Sunday.  His finals opponent was Cornell’s Gabe Dean, a freshman who topped a pair of nationally-ranked competitors – Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh and Fred Garcia of Lock Haven.

New York Note: Cortland’s Nick Bellanza, a 2012 New York State champion for John Glenn, had two wins on the backside to make the final six of the tournament.  Bellanza is in his first season with the Red Dragons.

197 Pounds:

For the fourth straight weight class, the championship match pitted Penn State versus Cornell. This time, it was Nittany Lion Morgan McIntosh over Jace Bennett for the crown at 197 by a major decision.

New York Note: Bennett was joined by teammate Steve Congenie in the top four.  The freshman from Illinois won five times, including three pins, to notch fourth place.

285 Pounds:

Penn State’s Jimmy Lawson won in a field consisting of multiple nationally-ranked competitors.  He defeated one of those grapplers, Billy Smith of Rutgers, in the championship match.

New York Note: Tyler Deuel of the Bearcats earned fourth place with four victories during the day.  That included a pin of Cornell’s Stryker Lane, an opponent who had defeated him last season.  Lane also reached the top six.

 

* The score of the 125 pound finals is a typo in the brackets, according to the Big Red staff.

For full results, see http://www.trackwrestling.com and search for the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open.  For the top four at each weight, see below:

NCAA – 125
1st Place – Nahshon Garrett of Cornell
2nd Place – Nico Megaludis of Penn State
3rd Place – Scott Delvecchio of Rutgers
4th Place – David White of Binghamton

NCAA – 133
1st Place – Mark Grey of Cornell
2nd Place – Jordan Conaway of Penn State
3rd Place – Geoffrey Alexander of Maryland
4th Place – James Gulibon of Penn State

NCAA – 141
1st Place – Zain Retherford of Penn State
2nd Place – Will Switzer of Lehigh
3rd Place – Adam Krop of Princeton
4th Place – Casey Stasenko of Rutgers

NCAA – 149
1st Place – Chris Villalonga of Cornell
2nd Place – Alex Cisneros of Cornell
3rd Place – Joe Bonaldi of Binghamton
4th Place – Kevin Moylan of Princeton

NCAA – 157
1st Place – Nestor Taffur of Boston University
2nd Place – Jimmy Vollrath of Penn State
3rd Place – Forfeit Forfeit of Unattached
4th Place – Brian Realbuto of Cornell
4th Place – Taylor Simaz of Cornell

NCAA – 165
1st Place – David Taylor of Penn State
2nd Place – Craig Eifert of Cornell
3rd Place – Garett Hammond of Penn State
4th Place – Mitch Wightman of Boston University

NCAA – 174
1st Place – Matthew Brown of Penn State
2nd Place – Owen Scott of Cornell
3rd Place – Jesse Shanaman of Cornell
4th Place – Eric Morris of Harvard

NCAA – 184
1st Place – Edward Ruth of Penn State
2nd Place – Gabe Dean of Cornell
3rd Place – Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh
4th Place – Fred Garcia of Lock Haven

NCAA – 197
1st Place – Morgan McIntosh of Penn State
2nd Place – Jace Bennett of Cornell
3rd Place – Hayden Hrymack of Rutgers
4th Place – Steve Congenie of Cornell

NCAA – 285
1st Place – James Lawson of Penn State
2nd Place – William Smith of Rutgers
3rd Place – Jon Gingrich of Penn State
4th Place – Tyler Deuel of Binghamton


"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.”

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