ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The Navy wrestling team won eight of the 10 bouts, including the first and last three of the night, to secure a 29-6 victory over arch rival Army in the annual Star Match held Friday evening at Alumni Hall in Annapolis, Md. The Midshipmen have won 14 consecutive matches against the Black Knights, including seven in a row in Annapolis while also boasting a 48-5-5 advantage in the series.
"I am really happy for the kids," said Navy interim head coach Brian Antonelli, who served seven seasons as an assistant coach under Bruce Burnett who was honored midway through the match. "This isn't about me and my future, rather it's about going out, working hard and our guys getting better each day. Our ultimate goal is getting guys to the national tournament, that's why I'm here. To ultimately helped them achieve their goals and dreams."
The Mids built an early 11-0 lead after taking victories in the first three matches of the evening that featured some noteworthy performances. Junior 133-pound Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.) pushed his season record to 22-9 and 4-2 in dual action following a 6-2 victory over Army freshman Logan Everett. Rasche is now 2-0 in the annual Star Match after scoring a 3-1 victory in last year's bout against Jordan Thome.
Navy took an unlikely 6-0 lead after junior 141-pound Patrick Prada (Laurel, Md.) scored a takedown with just one second remaining in his match. Prada, who replaced an injured Joe Locksmith (Kissimmee, Fla.) in the lineup, came into the bout having seen action in just four matches this season, all at the Franklin & Marshall Open in early January. But Prada had previous experience wrestling in the annual dual, beating Hunter Wood a year ago, 3-1, in sudden victory.
"Abolutely, I think having wrestled in this match before helped me out," said Prada.
Army's Tyler Rauenzahn scored the first points of the match against Prada with a takedown. Though he amassed just under a minute of riding time, he was able to gain the advantage in the second period when Prada selected the down position. Prada was able to score the reversal just seconds into the second period to take a 3-2 lead, but Rauenzahn quickly escaped to knot the match at 3-3. Rauenzahn looked to have the match secured after building 1:01 in riding time, but Prada kept working and was awarded the match-winning takedown with just one second left in the match to earn the 5-4 decision.
"Joe has been banged up lately and I knew coming into the match that the coaches needed me and the team needed me," said Prada. "I would do anything I could to help the team and I was able to pull out the win tonight."
"I honestly think Pat believed he could win from the moment he learned he would be wrestling in this match," said Antonelli. "Not only did the experience of having wrestled in this match a year ago help him, the way he won last year was very similar. He scored a takedown in sudden victory to win that match. Pat got a late start to his wrestling career (freshman in high school), but his mat awareness is pretty good."
The energy in the building after Prada's win certainly helped spring board senior Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) to one of the most impressive matches of his career. The senior 149-pounder replaced senior Raymond Borja (Virginia Beach, Va.), who suffered an injury in the championship bout of the All-Academy Championship. Johnson, who will graduate with a flawless 4-0 dual record, controlled the match against Army freshman Mark Marchetti from the opening whistle. Johnson held a 2-0 advantage after the first period and owned an 8-0 advantage after two frames. Johnson scored a flurry of takedowns in the final period before his final points gave him a tech fall (17-2) with 12 seconds left in the match.
"How about Alex Johnson coming out and getting a tech fall," said Antonelli. "What a way for a senior to go out in his final match at home."
Army posted the first of its two wins of the evening at 157 pounds where senior Paul Hancock delivered a 10-5 loss to Navy sophomore Bobby Burg (Gasport, N.Y).
The Mids took a 17-3 lead when returning NCAA qualifiers Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.) and Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.) earned decisions over their respective opponents. Walsh, who closed out the dual season with a perfect 6-0 mark at 165 pounds, produced a 5-1 win over Army junior Cole Gracey, while Miller, ranked 10th nationally at 174 pounds, scored a takedown with two seconds left to secure an 11-7 win that featured just under three minutes of riding time (2:57).
Army briefly quieted the Navy winning streak when senior Ryan Tompkins topped Navy team captain James Mannier (Troy, Ohio) at 184 pounds, 6-2.
Navy, though, went on to win the final three matches of the evening beginning with a 6-1 decision by junior Paul Rands (Cary, Ill.) at 197 pounds. Rands, who beat Bryce Barnes, 4-1, in the title bout of the All-Academy Championship on Feb. 1, came back to earn a 6-1 victory over the sophomore in Friday night's dual. The victory pushed Navy's lead to 20-6 and sealed the win for the Mids. Rands has now won seven straight matches, including four duals.
Junior heavyweight Colynn Cook (Murrysville, Pa.) pulled even for the year (14-14) thanks to a 4-1 win over Army rookie David Farr. Farr held a 1-0 advantage going into the final period, but Cook evened the match just four seconds into the final stanza with an escape. He scored the match-winning takedown with 1:27 to go in the match and used more than two minutes of riding time to secure the win in what was his first Star Match appearance.
"I was really happy for Colynn Cook and Pat Prada tonight," said Antonelli. "They just flat-out out hustled their opponents. Army is a tough team and well prepared, but in those two particular matches our guys put the extra effort in."
Wrestling in the final bout of the night, Navy freshman 125-pound Brenden Campbell (New Castle, Ind.) wasted little time in etching his name into the win column as he won by fall over senior Nathan Santhanam in just 47 seconds.
Navy will use the next two weeks to prepare for the 110th EIWA Championship which will be held at Penn on March 7-8.
133: Colton Rasche (N) dec Logan Everett (A) 6-2
141: Patrick Prada (N) dec Tyler Rauenzahn (A) 5-4
149: Alex Johnson (N) tech fall Mark Marchetti (A) 17-2
157: Paul Hancock (A) dec Bobby Burg (N) 10-5
165: Peyton Walsh (N) dec Cole Gracey (A) 5-1
174: #10 Mathew Miller (N) dec Brian Harvey (A) 11-7
184: Ryan Tomkins (A) dec James Mannier (N) 6-2
197: Paul Rands (N) dec Bryce Barnes (A) 6-1
285: Colynn Cook (N) dec David Farr (A) 4-1
125: Brenden Campbell (N) fall Nathan Santhanam (A) 0:47