Cornell 141 lber Vince Cornella (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The Franklin and Marshall Open hosted nearly a dozen EIWA teams, among the field containing almost 20 nationally ranked wrestlers. Cornell beat two top-10 teams in the span of three days. Penn won an exciting dual over North Carolina. Mason Leiphart of Franklin and Marshall scored three more technical falls this weekend, making him the leader in D1 with 9 tech falls on the year. These were some of the main highlights.
We need a special highlight for Vince Cornella, earning this week’s Outstanding Wrestler. He beat two higher-ranked opponents in an impressive weekend. He handled both #19 Vasquez of Arizona State and #15 Crooks of Virginia Tech. This brings Cornella’s record to 12-3 on the on the season. As a freshman, he has quickly climbed the rankings and become a potential All-American threat. Sandwiching him in the line-up between Vito and Yianni has paid its dividends. Congrats to Vince.
The Eagles opened up the new year at the F&M Open – they had three placewinners in the tough open. Max Leete (125lbs) finished 5-1 on the day with 3 pins. Jack Maida was 4-1 on the day, earning eight due to a medical forfeit. The third placer was Carsten Rawls at 184 lbs, wrestling to a 3-2 record – good enough for eighth place also. They had a handful of wrestlers win some matches. It was a good way to start the new year.
The Eagles also had a chance to host #9 Virginia Tech. At 149 lbs, Patrick Ryan won by decision to get them on the board. American’s second victory came at 165 lbs, where Caleb Campos pinned his opponent. Campos has been red-hot lately and I expect him to keep improving. He is now 12-5 on the year and has won five in a row. The Eagles return to action this weekend, playing host to two EIWA teams, Columbia and Bucknell.
The Black Knights came into the new year wrestling twenty-five competitors at the F&M Open. Although only three placewinners surfaced, there was much improvement from many of the wrestlers and they all received much-needed mat time. Trae McDaniel led the way for the squad at 149 lbs. He placed third, losing to eventual champ Ricky Cabanillas of Brown. At 133lbs, Ryan Franco placed fifth after reaching his match limit. He had a great win over previously ranked Gable Strickland of Lock Haven. Lastly, Shane Percelay earned sixth at 141 lbs. His lone loss on the day came to 32nd-ranked Malyke Hines of Lehigh by a close 2-0 score. Many other athletes had wins, as well. It was a rest day for most of the team’s starters. They will have a tough road match-up against #6 North Carolina State.
The Bearcats wrested two duals against ranked opponents on the road. On Friday, they lost to #6 NC State 36-3. On Sunday, they suffered a 29-10 loss to #24 Appalachian State. Against NC State, Micah Roes started the dual off with an upset over Jarrett Trombley (#24 @ 125 lbs). It was good to see him get a win after taking some losses earlier in the year. Against App State, Jacob Nolan (#23 @ 184) earned a major decision while Cory Day (#21 @ 285) won by fall. The Bearcats were without Lou DePrez (#9 @ 197), as he nursed an injury. Next week, they will be on the road to face Drexel on Friday, then square off against #20 Lehigh at home on Sunday.
The Bears traveled to Lancaster to wrestle three duals on Thursday and compete in the F&M Open on Friday. They went 2-1 in duals – 25-10 over F&M, 22-19 over Davidson, but dropped a dual to Presbyterian 23-15. The lower weights in Shane Hanson-Ashworth (125 lbs) and Hunter Adrian (133 lbs) went 6-0 on the day. Hanson-Ashworth had a nice win over Leiphart of F&M. The middleweights had some rotating competitors at 149 lbs and 157 lbs. All wrestlers won their respective duals. Overall, a great day for the Bears.
The following day, we saw Ricky Cabanillas win the 149 lbs bracket at the open. He went a perfect 5-0 on the day, with two major decisions. At 157 lbs, Sam McMonagle won 4 matches in a tough bracket. There were plenty of wins from this team, as they entered the new year in with a bang. Coach Leen is slowly improving this team. We will see how they fair against a tough home match with North Carolina (#25) this weekend.
The Bison traveled to Coach Wirnsberger’s alma mater, Michigan State. They claimed three victories over the 23rd-ranked Spartans. Dylan Chappell (141 lbs) and Braden Bower (149 lbs) each had close wins – Bower beat a very tough Peyton Omania, a returning NCAA Qualifier. Dorian Crosby won by decision at 285 lbs. Kurt Phipps at 133 lbs (#22) lost a close 5-4 match to All-American Rayvon Foley.
In a Monday night dual, the Bison beat Hofstra in an 18-17 barn burner. It came down to the heavyweight match where Crosby upset Zachary Knighton-Ward (#23) to win the dual for Bucknell. We also saw Phipps with a win. Chappell had a fall over last season’s EIWA-placer Justin Hoyle, which helped propel them to victory early on. Braden Bower (149 lbs) and Chase Barlow (165 lbs) each had a victory as well. This was a great win by Bucknell, as they were outmatched on paper, it seemed, because of the five freshmen in the lineup. Next up, they will travel to DC for an EIWA dual with American.
The Lions were off this weekend. They will travel to American this Friday and host #12 Oklahoma State on Sunday.
The Big Red were on fire to start the new year with a 19-12 over #3 Arizona State. Cornell won the last three bouts when Vito Arujau (#3 @ 133 lbs) beat #4 Michael McGee for the second time this season. Freshman Vince Cornella (#22 @ 141 lbs) handily beat #19 Vasquez, and Yianni took care of 2X All-American Kyle Parco 8-2. We also saw wins from Julian Ramirez (#7 @ 165 lbs), Chris Foca (#5 @ 174 lbs) and 17th-ranked Jacob Cardenas at 197 lbs.
Then, they beat #10 Virginia Tech on the road 22-12. Cornell saw big wins from Brett Ungar (#20 @ 125 lbs) with an upset over Eddie Ventresca and Cornella (#22 @ 141 lbs) beat 15th-ranked Tom Crook. The Big Red also got wins from Ramirez, Foca, Cardenas, and Yianni in this dual.
These wins are more impressive since returning All-American Jonathan Loew missed both duals with an injury. This team is hot at the right time, as they face Lehigh on Saturday in a match that could have EIWA regular-season championship ramifications.
The Dragons sent several wrestlers to the F&M Open. Many of the starters were not in action. Overall, they saw 5 place finishers. The highest placement came at 184 lbs, where Josh Stillings went 5-1 for third place. He had a great opening-round win over David Key of Navy. Fifth-ranked Mickey O’Malley saw mat time, winning four matches (3 by bonus points) before medical forfeiting out to help nurse his banged-up knee. Freshman John Hildebrandt went 3-2 at 133 lbs, which earned him fourth place. Cody Walsh had a 4-2 record, which was good enough for sixth place at 165 lbs. Finally, Sean O’Malley finished the day 3-1 at 197 lbs. Drexel will have a double header this weekend, facing Binghamton at home on Friday and F&M away on Saturday.
Franklin & Marshall
The Diplomats hosted a few events on the weekend. First, was a quad meet with Brown, Presbyterian, and Davidson. The team was 2-1 in these duals (29-9 over Davidson, 33-9 over Presbyterian, and a 25-10 loss to Brown). It was good to see Cenzo Pelusi return to the lineup at heavyweight, earning three wins. James Conway at 184 lbs was also 3-0 on the day. A gang of wrestlers were 2-1 on the day as well. The Dips showed some good stuff in two dominant wins. I am not alone in thinking the match against Brown would be a little closer than the outcome showed. Nonetheless, the team is improving overall.
At the Open the following day, John Crawford (197 lbs) was the lone place finisher for the team. He ended the day in second place, defeating Max Shaw (#33) of North Carolina in the semifinals. His loss was to a 28th-ranked Jake Koser of Navy. Noah Fox had four wins on the day at 174 lbs, ending his day just shy of the top-8. A handful of wrestlers saw at least three wins on the day. Steady improvement has been the mantra of this team. Next week, they will face the Drexel Dragons in a home conference matchup.
The Crimson joined the party at the F&M Open on Friday. Although lacking many starters, they performed well. It was nice to see some of the young talent compete and get needed mat time. At 133 lbs, Dante Frinzi upset the 31st-ranked Joey Melendez of North Carolina during his 2-2 day. Former Bethlehem Catholic teammate, Evan Gleason (157 lbs) also secured two wins on the day. At 174 lbs, Alex Whitworth had a great win over 184 lbs NCAA qualifier AJ Burkhart of Lehigh. He finished his tournament with a 2-2 record. Like I said, a majority of starters sat this one out after a long Midlands tournament a week ago. They will be back this weekend when they host North Carolina – as they visit the Northeast Ivies in Harvard and Brown.
Hofstra sent a few guys to the F&M Open. One standout performance came from Ericson Velasquez at 184 lbs. He had three pins on the day before dropping two matches. Wrestling at 133lbs for Hofstra-unattached was Joe Sparacio. He had a heck of a tournament, beating Pat Phillips of F&M. This was one of his four wins on the day.
Monday night, they had a dual with Bucknell. Coming down to the wire, Hofstra lost 18-17. Hofstra had wins from Joe McGinty (157 lbs), Ross McFarland (174 lbs), and Jacob Ferreira (184 lbs). Jacob Moon started with a major at 125lbs, and Trey Rogers (#29 @ 197 lbs) pulled them ahead after his major decision. Unfortunately, for the Pride, only two major decisions were not enough to overcome the single fall by Bucknell. Expect them to come back hungry when they wrestle Buffalo this Sunday afternoon.
The Mountain Hawks had a few wrestlers in the F&M Open. We saw Jaret Lane back competing after missing much of the first semester with an injury. He went 5-1 on the day with a match limit cap for fifth place. Malyke Hines took a loss in the semifinals before ending his day in fourth place at 141 lbs. At 174 lbs, Jake Logan took third place after dropping a match in the semi’s. Tate Samuelson (#20 @ 184 lbs) took home silver, dropping a match to #15 Gavin Kane of UNC. At 285 lbs, big man Nathan Taylor was in third place. He had a win over Cenzo Pelusi of F&M. The Mountain Hawks are preparing for a vital road trip to Cornell and Binghamton Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
The Sharks were in attendance at the F&M Open, and won plenty of matches to show for it. Drew Witham has been wrestling well as of late for them at 149 lbs. He continued to lead the way again, winning 5 of his 6 matches. One of his wins was over Wil Guida of North Carolina, who was 2X Fargo Champion. He ended the day in fifth, due to his match limit. His teammate a weight above, Rhise Royster (157lbs), went 2-0 on the day before he was forced to call it a day with an injury. We did see Robbie Sagaris return from injury. The team is progressing very nicely. It is evident to see new assistant coach, Jesse Dellavecchia, and his work paying off. We will see the Sharks of LIU again this weekend, hosting duals against Clarion and VMI.
The Midshipmen had a quality number of competitors at the F&M Open. Of twenty-plus participants, they returned home with three champs. At 133lbs, Brendan Ferretti was undefeated in his five bouts, earning one of the team’s first-place finishes. With only one pin, he scored four decisions in the process. It was a great outing for him, after suffering an injury earlier in the year – finally getting back into his groove. The upper weights shined through, as both Jacob Koser (#28 @ 197 lbs) and Grady Greiss (#20 @ 285 lbs) each won their brackets. Greiss defeated NCAA Qualifier Travis Stefanik of Princeton in the process. Koser did not have any ranked opponents, but won his closest match by five points. At 165 lbs, Val Park (165 lbs) lost in the quarterfinals and was forced to injury default out. He won three matches before this. Navy was without some ranked wrestlers in Koderhandt and Cerniglia. They will be in action at the Virginia Duals this week. They face South Dakota State, Virginia, Kent State, and Oklahoma. This is a great opportunity for them to climb the team rankings.
We saw a few wrestlers at the F&M Open repping the Quakers. Many of them had outstanding performances. Evan Mougalian placed third at 133lbs, going 5-1 on the day, including a nice win over Jack Maida of American. Many other wrestlers won at least four matches including Jackson Polo (141 lbs), Cole Spencer (157 lbs), Mikey Kistler (174 lbs), and Connor Strong (184 lbs). This team has some young depth waiting to fulfill the starting lineup in the very near future.
The Quakers hosted North Carolina to a dual in a great wrestling atmosphere Saturday night. The matches were split 5-5, but Penn’s two tech falls from Nick Incontrera (#18 @ 174 lbs) and Cole Urbas (#33 @ 197 lbs) were the differences in the 19-17 victory. The Quakers also saw wins from Ben Goldin (#28 @ 285 lbs), Michael Colaiocco (#8 @ 133 lbs), and Doug Zapf (#10 @ 149 lbs). Being on the broadcast, this match was very entertaining to be at. It was full of competitive individual matches, a few upsets, and an electric crowd on hand. These Quakers are tough. With nine returning NCAA qualifiers in the lineup, expect them to be in the race for the widely coveted EIWA title.
The Tigers had a wide range of participants at the F&M Open. Danny Coles has been wrestling very well lately, finishing runner-up at 141 lbs. He even had a win over #32 Hines of Lehigh. We may see him in the rankings very soon. At 165 lbs, Grant Cuomo was also runner-up in his bracket. Nick Kayal was down to 125 lbs, placing fourth. He upset Jaret Lane of Lehigh in the quarterfinal. Returning NCAA Qualifier at 149 lbs, Marshall Keller lost one time for a fifth-place finish. Ty Whalen (157lbs) is new to the starting lineup with Quincy Monday moving up. He went 6-1 on the day, only suffering a loss to NCAA Champion from 2021 Austin O’Connor (#4 – North Carolina). Also, at 157 lbs, Hudson Hightower wrestled well enough to earn fourth place. Aidan Connor was third at 197 lbs. Two heavyweights placed in the bracket with Travis Stefanik (4th) and Sebastian Garibaldi (8th). This week, the team will travel to wrestle Oregon State in Austin, TX before heading to Arizona State for another dual.
The Pioneers sent a couple of wrestlers to the F&M Open. With two wins at 157 lbs, John Siemsen was one of the top performers. One of those wins was a pin. The 149 lbs weight class had a few Pioneers each win two matches a piece between Dakota Asuncion, Chris Naegele and Matt Laurie. Aiden Zarrella went 2-2 on the day at the 165lbs bracket. Coach Clark is getting these guys' matches, that’s for sure. We have not seen much of Nick Palumbo, who was an NCAA Qualifier a few years back at 157 lbs. Hopefully, we can see him in the second half of the season now that dual meets are the immediate focus. This weekend, the Pioneers have a nice chance to get a win under their belt as VMI comes to town.