The 20th-ranked Princeton wrestling team learned its lesson last season when it let an early-season Ivy League match slip away in Providence. Despite getting national attention for a Super Sunday showdown at Rutgers tomorrow, the Tigers remained focused inside Jadwin Gym Saturday and opened their 2019 Ivy League season with victories over both Harvard and Brown.
PRINCETON 31, HARVARD 12
Princeton won six of its last seven matches to cruise to an Ivy-opening win over Harvard during the afternoon portion of the doubleheader. That run started at 149, but not from the Tiger you might have expected. With the main event showdown with #2 Anthony Ashnault set for Sunday, head coach Chris Ayres chose to rest top-ranked Matthew Kolodzik in the opener, and he sent freshman Josh Breeding to the mat with the Tigers down 9-3. Breeding handled the moment in impressive fashion, scoring a major decision over Robert Groves for the first dual win of his career.
That ignited a run that put Princeton ahead to stay, and it included wins from classmates Quincy Monday and Travis Stefanik (fellow freshman Patrick Glory opened the dual with a win of his own) that gave Princeton the lead for good. Kevin Parker built on it with a major decision at 184, and third-ranked sophomore Patrick Brucki posted a milestone win to clinch the dual victory.
PRINCETON 25, BROWN 10
Princeton avenged its loss to the Bears last season by again winning six of seven matches during a 25-10 win. Stefanik and Brucki grabbed wins during the first half of the match, but Brown led 10-8 at intermission. The Tigers had already battled back from a deficit once on Saturday, and they were more than happy to do it again. Glory started the run with a 15-2 major decision at 125, and Jonathan Gomez grabbed the full momentum of the match by edging Charlie Faber 5-4 at 133. Gomez led late in the third, but he had to battle out of a takedown attempt in the final seconds to secure his first dual win of the season.
Marshall Keller and Kolodzik followed with victories to clinch the dual, and then Monday completed a 2-0 opener to his Ivy League career with a 10-4 win over Christian Labrie.
The Sunday showdown in New Brunswick (noon, BTN Plus) may be highlighted by Kolodzik-Ashnault, but it is expected to be include several highly competitive matches throughout the dual. Rutgers currently has three ranked wrestlers listed among its probables, including 2018 NCAA finalist Nick Suriano and 15th-ranked veteran John Van Brill (157).
The two programs came together in recent years to create a B1GIVY Rivalry Trophy for the winner of the match, and since both teams have wins over Rider already, a theoretical New Jersey state championship is also on the line. Rutgers has won 22 straight in this rivalry and holds the all-time advantage 43-33-5 in a series that dates back to 1931, but Princeton has already ended long droughts to both Lehigh and Rider this year, so what could be more charming than a third one this weekend?
Should the Kolodzik-Ashnault showdown take place, it will be the fifth at the collegiate level between the two. Each has won twice so far; Kolodzik wrestled unattached at the 2015 Midlands Championships and split a pair of matches with his Rutgers counterpart; he won 11-4 in the first meeting, then fell 3-2 in wrestlebacks. They met twice during the 2016-17 season, and both in dramatic settings. A late takedown gave Kolodzik a 4-3 win in the "Battle at the Birthplace" dual at HighPoint.com Stadium in November, but Ashnault avenged that with a 6-2 victory in the NCAA Quarterfinals in St. Louis.
Kolodzik and Ashnault are a combined 32-0 this season, and 11-0 against ranked competition; that total doesn't include Kolodzik's win over #6 Mitch Finesilver of Duke during the NWCA All-Star Classic.
Princeton 31, Harvard 12
125 - #10 Patrick Glory (P) dec. Nolan Hellickson 3-0
133 - Lukus Stricker (H) WBF Jonathan Gomez 4:33
141 - Ryan Friedman (H) dec. Marshall Keller 3-1
149 - Josh Breeding (P) mdec. Robert Groves 11-3
157 - Quincy Monday (P) mdec. Aaron Kruk 15-4
165 - Tyler Tarsi (H) dec. Dale Tiongson 13-7
174 - Travis Stefanik (P) mdec. Leonardo Tarantino 10-1
184 - Kevin Parker (P) mdec. Michael Bausano 14-3
197 - #3 Patrick Brucki (P) WBF Cole Bateman 6:37
285 - Kendall Elfstrum (P) wins by forfeit
Princeton 25, Brown 10
165 - #18 Jonathan Viruet (B) mdec. Grant Cuomo 11-3
174 - Travis Stefanik (P) dec. Anthony Pedro 10-4
184 - Christian LaFragola (B) dec. Kevin Parker 7-3
197 - #3 Patrick Brucki (P) TF Tucker Ziegler 20-4
285 - Ian Butterbrodt (B) dec. Kendall Elfstrum 5-1
125 - #10 Patrick Glory (P) mdec. Trey Keeley 15-2
133 - Jonathan Gomez (P) dec. Charlie Faber 5-4
141 - Marshall Keller (P) dec. Theodore Powers 7-1
149 - #1 Matthew Kolodzik (P) mdec. Zachary Krause 18-4
157 - Quincy Monday (P) dec. Christian Labrie 10-4