CLARION, Pa. - The Patriots wrestling team opened its dual match season with a familiar opponent but in a different conference as Mason edged the Clarion Golden Eagles, 19-18 today at Tippin Gym on Clarion's campus.
The two teams met five of the last six seasons in the Eastern Wrestling League before meeting today for the first time as members of the Mid-American Conference. The Eagles won the last three dual matches with Mason last winning on January 18, 2015 at Clarion.
"Two years ago, Clarion shut us out in the dual," said Head Coach Frank Beasley. "Last season they beat us 16-27 and this year we came away with a big win. I think Clarion's line-up today was the best team they have fielded in a long time."
A solid win for Mason, the Clarion Golden Eagles were ranked fifth in the preseason MAC coaches' poll, while the Patriots were sitting at 13th in the 15-team conference.
"Really pleased with the effort and fight out of our team across the board today," added Beasley. "Our focus was very good up and down the line-up."
The Patriots and Clarion split each of the five matches on the mat, but bonus points proved to be the difference in giving George Mason the win.
Both teams picked up a win by fall on, with the Patriots' freshman Josh Jones defeating Seth Koleno with 51 seconds left at 133 pounds and Clarion's Greg Bulsak pinning Jeremy Seymour in the 197-pound bout. Jones' win, as well as a major decision by Neil Schuster over Mike Vernagallo, 10-2, in the 165-pound bout, was the difference-maker for the Patriots.
"Josh came off a disappointing weekend at Journeyman Classic and rebounded with a very good performance today," Beasley said. "I love seeing his aggression from start to finish. He won the Hammer Award today for getting the fall for the team."
"Neil continues to impress," said Beasley. "He has made enormous gains from last season and is getting better every match. He is putting himself in position to have an outstanding season. Neil put up bonus points for the team which was an important component of the win today."
Mason won the first three bouts before Clarion returned the favor with three straight wins of their own. Kolby Ho, in a return to his hometown Dubois, started the match with a decision over Avery Shay, 9-5.
"Like Josh, Kolby did not have the performance he wanted last weekend, but he put himself right back on track today," said Beasley. "Kolby is very good when he is offensive and that is exactly what we saw out of him in today's dual"
After Schuster's win, Anthony Lombardo edged Max Wohlabaugh, 11-9.
"Tony came off a very grueling weekend. Today, he showed poise and maturity making adjustments in order to come away with a dominate win," said coach Beasley.
The Golden Eagles responded with three straight wins and a12-10 lead starting with a 3-2 decision by Luke Funck in the 184-pound bout. Two-time NCAA qualifier Greg Bulsak defeated Jeremy Seymour, earning six points. Ty Bagoly wrapped the three-match streak with a win over Jake Slinger in the heavyweight bout.
The Patriots countered with wins at 125 and 133 pounds, beginning with a 6-3 Talha Farooq decision against Cameron Butler. Freshman Joshua Jones defeated Seth Koeno with a fall at 6:09.
"Talha got taken down early in the match but continued to stick to his game plan," said Beasley. "He showed a lot of grit in a pivotal match."
Clarion's Taylor Ortz gave the Eagles a chance with a 5-3 decision over Alex Madrigal. In the final match of the day, Brock Zacherl won the day's finale in a sudden-victory decision, but Mason's Colston DiBlasi kept him from bonus points and a possible tie.
"Real development takes time," added Beasley. "I'm very proud of our team for the effort they displayed today, and it was a very solid performance. I think a big portion of the credit goes the assistant coaches on this staff who have helped develop the young men within our program."
The Patriots to open its home schedule against Oregon State on Thursday, November 21 at 7 p.m.
157 : Kolby Ho (George Mason) over Avery Shay (Clarion) (Dec 9-5)
165 : Neil Schuster (George Mason) over Mike Vernagallo (Clarion) (MD 10-2)
174 : Anthony Lombardo (George Mason) over Max Wohlabaugh (Clarion) (Dec 11-9)
184 : Luke Funck (Clarion) over Paul Pierce (George Mason) (Dec 3-2)
197 : Greg Bulsak (Clarion) over Jeremy Seymour (George Mason) (Fall 1:32)
285 : Tyler Bagoly (Clarion) over Jake Slinger (George Mason) (Dec 10-3)
125 : Talha Farooq (George Mason) over Cameron Butler (Clarion) (Dec 6-3)
133 : Josh Jones (George Mason) over Seth Koleno (Clarion) (Fall 6:09)
141 : Taylor Ortz (Clarion) over Alex Madrigal (George Mason) (Dec 5-3)
149 : Brock Zacherl (Clarion) over Colston DiBlasi (George Mason) (SV-1 4-2)