Brown 149 lber Ricky Cabanillas (Photo/Brown athletics)
â€œWe have a young team by college experience standards, but they come into college very talented and heavily accomplished. There are 12 freshmen on the team this season, with many of them battling for the starting spot. We are really excited to showcase the team this season and looking forward to our first competition!â€ - Head Coach Todd Beckerman
With such a young roster, mixed with the Covid year, there are only a few Brown wrestlers with significant experience penciled into the starting lineup. Most notable are Ricky Cabanillas, AJ Pedro, and Jack Bokina. Cabanillas won 25 matches in 2019-20 and finished seventh at the EIWA Championships.
Senior AJ Pedro has seen two years of action in the Bear lineup and has put together a 25-17 career record. As a sophomore, Pedro got to compete in the postseason for Brown and went 1-1 before having to pull out due to injury.
Bokina has gone 31-32 over parts of two years in the Brown lineup. He went 1-2 at the EIWA Championships and was named the team's Most Improved Wrestler.
The Bears have lost a pair of experienced team members in Hunter Kosco and Nino Bastianelli, both to graduation. Kosco represented the Bears at the EIWA Championships on two occasions, finishing eighth in 2019. His final career record in Providence was 25-27. Bastianelli went 18-13 at 197 lbs in 2019-20 and was Brown's EIWA entry.
The Bears Class of 2021 was a sneaky-good one that featured five of MatScouts' top-300 seniors. The one most likely to see time right away is Drew Clearie. Drew placed three times at Pennsylvania's AAA state tournament and was third on two occasions. In the most recent Beast of the East (2019), Clearie finished fourth at 182 lbs. He could establish himself as the starter right away at 184 lbs.
Two of the Bears top recruits from 2020 will finally get a chance to push for a spot in the lineup with Hunter Adrian and Blake Saito. In high school, Adrian won the New England Championships three times. During the offseason, Adrian led the Brown entries at UWW Junior Nationals with an eighth-place finish in freestyle at 57 kg. One of his signature wins was 9-3 over Iowa's Jesse Ybarra. Adrian could be in the driver's seat for a spot in the lineup at 125.
Saito was a three-time Ohio state placewinner, who didn't get the opportunity to compete at the state tournament as a senior. He also was a placer at the Walsh Ironman and NHSCA Junior Nationals, too. While Saito has Cabanillas in the way at 149 lbs, he should make the veteran work to keep his starting spot.
WRESTLERS TO WATCH
In addition to the possible new faces like Adrian, Saito, and Clearie, keep an eye on Justin Bierdumpfel at 141 lbs. Justin was a three-time New Jersey state placewinner and a Fargo finalist in Cadet freestyle. He was from the Class of 2020, as well, but didn't have the opportunity to compete last season. The coaching staff likes what they see from Bierdumpfel in the preseason.
125 - Hunter Adrian/Tim Levine
133 - Darby Diedrich/Shane Hanson-Ashworth/Nicky Cabanillas
141 - Justin Bierdumpfel/Sam McMonagle/Ian Oswalt
149 - Ricky Cabanillas/Blake Saito
157 - Jack Bokina
165 - Keegan Rothrock/AJ Corrado
174 - AJ Pedro
184 - Drew Clearie/James Areano
197 - Cade Wilson/Tony Pray
HWT - Lear Quinton/Thomas Mukai