A strong start and a crucial technical fall from freshman Jordan Laster helped the Princeton wrestling team improve to 4-1 on the season with an impressive 22-19 road victory at Hofstra Friday night.
The victory is Princeton's first over Hofstra since 1989, and it comes a month after the Tigers earned their first ever victory over Binghamton. Princeton will now take three weeks off for a finals break, and then will return to Dillon Gym Feb. 1 for a pair of matches against Franklin & Marshall and Cornell.
Both teams won five matches apiece, but Princeton received bonus points in four of its wins, including a pin by sophomore Abe Ayala. Freshman Jordan Laster had a critical technical fall late, while both sophomore Kevin Moylan and freshman Brett Harner earned major decisions.
"I told the guys that if they can get bonus points, they need to go out and get them," head coach Chris Ayres said. "I really liked the whole team effort tonight. This is a really good win for the guys, especially heading into finals. This can be a nice confidence builder as we continue our training."
With injuries leaving Princeton without several projected starters at the lower weights, the Tigers knew they needed to grab extra points where they could. The match started at 157, and Moylan ignited the strong performance with a 19-5 win. One of five Tiger starters who moved up a weight in the last week, Moylan was dominant during his 15th win of the season.
Hofstra earned a major at 165, but Callahan gave the Tigers back the lead with a 9-4 decision at 174. Callahan started a run of three straight Princeton titles at the F&M Open last weekend, and he started a similar run of wins at Hofstra. Harner claimed his 19th win of the season with a 16-7 major over Dwight Howes, and Ayala pinned Zeal McGrew in 2:22 to open a 17-4 Princeton lead.
Ayala remains one of Princeton's hottest wrestlers. Not counting the Midlands Championships, the Tiger sophomore has won 12 of his last 13 matches, and he is 4-1 in the dual season.
Freshman Ray O'Donnell, who moved to heavyweight in the last month, nearly kept the run going, but he dropped a tough 5-4 decision. That would be the first of three straight wins for Hofstra, which trailed by only one point when Laster took the mat for his 141-pound match.
That one point deficit soon became six, as Laster was dominant in a 17-2 technical fall. Nick Maselli took the mat for the final match, and though he dropped a 6-0 decision, he needed only to avoid a fall to clinch Princeton's fourth team win in five tries.
157 - Kevin Moylan (Princeton) md. Nick Terdick 19-5
165 - Joseph Booth (Hofstra) md. Josh Ellis 14-4
174 - Ryan Callahan (Princeton) dec. Frank Affronti 9-4
184 - Brett Harner (Princeton) md. Dwight Howes 16-7
197 - Abe Ayala (Princeton) p. Zeal McGrew 2:22
285 - Michael Hughes (Hofstra) dec. Ray O`Donnell 5-4
125 - Jamie Franco (Hofstra) md. Jake Intrator 12-0
133 - Jamel Hudson (Hofstra) TF. Ryan Cash 5:44, 25-10
141 - Jordan Laster (Princeton) TF. Alex Mirante TF 5:05, 17-2
149 - Cody Ruggirello (Hofstra) dec. Nick Maselli 6-0