Lehigh 157 lber Josh Humphreys (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
What else is there to say!? Wrestling season is back baby! Most teams competed in opens to start off the season. A few squads had duals - so it was a nice mix of events for the conference. We saw a superstar, Patrick Glory, compete (and win) at the Princeton Open. He put on a nice show for the crowd to start his final season as a Princeton Tiger. The talent in the conference, as a whole, was put on display as well. Two underclassmen defeated highly-ranked, NCAA All-American opponents. Because of this, I have to share my (newly created) weekly EIWA Outstanding Wrestler Award.
This week's co-OW is Ethan Berginc from Army. The freshman from Hempfield Area High School in PA, knocked off Brandon Kaylor, a returning All-American from Oregon State currently holding the #7 ranking. Admittedly, Ethan was not on my radar much before the season began. Obviously, he is now, and he's near the top! I'll be on the lookout for him in the next few weeks. He's set the expectation bar pretty high at these early stages of the season.
My other co-OW of the conference is 133lber Pat Phillips of Franklin & Marshall. He beat returning All-American from 2021 and round of 12 finisher last season from Virginia Tech, Sam Latona - currently 13th ranked in the nation. Pat ended the weekend runner-up at the Southeast Open. He has already made giant leaps this off-season. I'm excited to see if he can keep this momentum rolling.
The Eagles went 2-1 in duals this weekend. They won over Duke (21-15) and Bloomsburg (29-10), and a loss to Maryland (10-29). It's only the opening weekend, and the team has more victories than last year already. Now that Coach Borrelli and staff have had a full year under their belt, expect more winning from them. I like the direction they are heading, figuratively speaking. This upcoming weekend, literally speaking, they will be heading south to compete in the Citadel Open in Charleston, SC.
Army West Point
The Black Knights hosted a scramble - not the golf type, however. Oregon State, LIU, and Queens University of Charlotte (D2) were also competing there. Basically, it was a round-robin format where the goal was to have each wrestler receive three matches. I mentioned Berginc's monster performance, going undefeated. Harkins at 165lbs, had a 5-1 win over Olguin (#25) of Oregon State, winning his weight class. He's my darkhorse - already knocking off ranked opponents. Army continues action this weekend at the Journeymen Duals (Sacred Heart and Nebraska) and Round Robin matches in Bethlehem, PA.
No action this past weekend besides their black versus green wrestle-off matches. They begin their season with a dual this Saturday (11/12) against Northern Colorado. The following day, they host the Jon Kaloust Bearcat Open. Expect to see a bunch of talent from the EIWA, and other conferences in action as well.
The Bears' new Head Coach, Jordan Leen, made his debut at the Clarion Open. Their top placer was Hunter Adrian at 133lbs - placing third. Fourth place finishers include Blake Saito at 149lbs and Sam McMonagle up at 157lbs. Both Justin Bierdumpfel (141lbs) and Ricky Cabanillas (149lbs) ended in eighth. Expect Leen's ability to develop wrestlers to be on full display this season. I am looking forward to increasingly better results week after week. They have a weekend off coming up.
The Bison had a few guys wrestle unattached at the Clarion Open. Place finishers include Sam Barnes (3rd @ 197), Dylan Chappell (4th @ 141), Mason McCready (4th @ 197), and Kurt Phipps (5th @133). Phipps showed a lot of heart, losing first round and wrestling back strong. Most starters were home preparing for their opening weekend showdown at home when seventh-ranked Oklahoma State rolls into town Saturday night. Interestingly, Oklahoma State wrestles Lehigh at noon the same day. We'll see how/if this affects Oklahoma State in their second match within a few hours.
Overall, the Lions had three champs at the Southeast Open. Josh Ogunsanya took home the open division's 165lbs title while Nick Fine took home the 174lbs championship. In the freshman/sophomore division, Jack Wehmeyer won the 184lbs bracket. Returning 141lbs EIWA Champion, Matt Kazimir took a first round last then won three in a row for fifth. Also, at 141lbs, freshman Kai Owen followed in Matt's footsteps - losing the first match then battling back to win a few matches for fifth place. The Lions had 10 placers of their 21 competitors in the open division and 8 of 11 place in the freshman/sophomore division. Very solid performance by Columbia. They will have a weekend off before traveling to both Ohio State (#4) and Michigan (#8) in two weeks.
The Big Red had no action this past weekend, although some of their high school commits were busy making noise in opens. Cornell starts their season this weekend at the Jon Kaloust Bearcat Open hosted by Binghamton.
The Dragons were not in action this past weekend. They kickoff their season this weekend at the Mizzou Tiger Style Invitational along with Missouri, Maryland, Little Rock, Illinois, and Cal Poly.
Franklin & Marshall
The Diplomats took the trip down south to the Southeast Open. Pat Phillips was the highest placer, earning silver at 133lbs in the open division. I previously mentioned his huge win over Latona of Virginia Tech. At 197lbs, John Crawford defeated a national qualifier from Virginia last season, Michael Battista before taking fourth place in the open. Battista is currently ranked 31st in the nation. Finally, my 184lbs darkhorse, James Conway placed 6th. In the freshman/sophomore division, Mason Leiphart took home bronze at 125lbs in his first-ever college experience. The Dips have a home match against a local D3 team, Elizabethtown on Wednesday 11/9 before heading to the John Kaloust Bearcat Open hosted by Binghamton on Sunday.
The Crimson were not involved with any action this weekend. They will make their debut at the Journeymen Classic Round Robin on Sunday 11/13 in Bethlehem.
The Pride competed in the Princeton Open. They walked away with two place winners in Joe Sparacio (2nd @ 133lbs) and Nikolas Miller (4th @ 197lbs). There were plenty of starters not competing, which is reflected in the lack of placers. Hofstra is one of those teams that has talent, especially in the upper weights. I expect them to improve this year with a revamped lineup and utilizing some incoming transfers. We will see them back in action at the Journeymen Classic Round Robin on Sunday 11/13 in Bethlehem.
The Mountain Hawks went 2-0 on the weekend, as they defeated Oregon State (#30) and Sacred Heart on consecutive days. NCAA All-American Michael Beard went 2-0 in his Lehigh debut, after transferring from Penn State this offseason. Connor McGonagle (133lbs), Max Brignola (149lbs), Josh Humphreys (157lbs), Jake Logan (174lbs), and Nathan Taylor (285lbs) all won both matches this weekend. They also had a handful of wrestlers place at the Princeton Open. Catch Lehigh take on the state of Oklahoma this weekend, as they dual #7 Oklahoma State at home at noon and then make the short trip to Liberty High School to take on Oklahoma at 3PM at the Journeyman Duals.
The Sharks were part of the Black Knight scramble hosted by Army. One main performance stuck out here. Rhise Royster was 2-1 at 157lbs. His lone, two-point loss came to Army's Nathan Lukez - who currently holds the number 31 ranking nationally. Not surprising that the 157lb wrestler is off to a hot start, considering his new coach is the NCAA runner-up at that weight class from 2021 - Jesse Dellavecchia. This team will get better this season. As the newest member of the conference, they've been fighting an uphill battle. It's an arduous one, but they are slowly overcoming it. I am excited to see them at the Journeymen Duals (Buffalo, and Sacred Heart) and the round-robin matches this weekend in Bethlehem.
The Midshipmen competed at the Clarion Open with a few other EIWA schools. The lone champ from Navy was Grady Griess at heavyweight. He had two nice wins over Jake Slinger of Pitt and Hayden Copass of Purdue - both by decision. At 141lbs, Navy's Josh Koderhandt lost in an 18-10 barnburner to Filius of Purdue (#13). Josh is settling into his new weight class nicely, it appears. Navy's second runner-up on the day was Val Park at 165lbs. He was an EIWA placer last season. Navy had a great day overall, with eight more placewinners in addition to the finalists I mentioned. Veteran starters including Jacob Koser (third) and David Key (fifth) are included in that group. This weekend, Navy will travel to the John Kaloust Bearcat Open hosted by Binghamton.
The Quakers had wrestle-offs this past weekend. They will begin their season at the Journeymen Round Robin Classic at Freedom HS in Bethlehem, PA on Sunday 11/13. The following weekend, they will host their annual event, The Keystone Classic, on Sunday 11/20.
The Tigers hosted a men's and women's open simultaneously. They earned 3 gold medals in the process, without Quincy Monday competing. Pat Glory (#2 @ 125lbs) won the open. He had two close matches with two different Rutgers opponents - including Shawver (#22). Freshman 174lber for the Tigers, Kole Mulhauser earned gold as well. There were no ranked opponents were in his bracket, but it was a nice showing for his first collegiate outing. Lastly, Matt Cover (#22) won the heavyweight title over his own teammate, Travis Stefanik. The match came down to tiebreaker. Keep an eye on this weight during the year, as this will be a year-long battle. Other placers include Luke Stout (#17 @ 197lbs) and Nate Dugan (184lbs) - both getting second place. Stout lost to 13th ranked Laird of Rider. Dugan lost to former All-American Poznanski of Rutgers. Overall, a nice showing for the Tigers on the mat. This week, catch them at the Jon Kaloust Bearcat Open hosted by Binghamton - alongside a handful of EIWA teams.
The Pioneers had a tough task ahead of them on Sunday when they kicked off the season at Lehigh, in Grace Hall. Even though they did not win a match, there were a few positives. Starting the match at 133lbs, Andrew Fallon lost a close 4-1 match to McGonagle (#29). McGonagle is a returning NCAA qualifier at 141lbs. Also, Nick Palumbo, a former NCAA qualifier, lost to (#10) Humphreys by an 8-0 decision. It sounds bizarre to highlight, I know. But, go watch Humphreys wrestle and tell me anything less than an 8-0 major is not impressive. He's an absolute animal on top. This weekend, they will wrestle LIU, Rutgers, and Army at the Journeymen Duals. The following day, they will be at the Round Robin portion of the Journeymen Classic.