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Columbia completes exciting comeback to beat American in home opener

NEW YORK -- Down by four points heading into the final match at 133 pounds, Columbia Wrestling (2-2, 2-1 EIWA/0-1 IVY) needed at least five to lock up the win, and first-year Angelo Rini was up to the task, doing just that, recording a 22-7 technical fall win to push Columbia to a 21-20 complete team win over Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association foe American (2-5, 2-3 EIWA) in the home opener at the University "Blue" Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon.

The Lions collected wins from first years Kyle Mosher (157), Lennox Wolak (174) and Rini, along with wins from junior Riley Jacops (165) and sophomore Sam Wustefeld (197) to power past a competitive and tough American side to lock up the big win. Big bonus points came from Rini's tech fall, a pin by Wolak and a major decision from Wustefeld, with every point making the difference in the final score.

"It is just a good team win," said Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling Zach Tanelli. "And while Angelo [Rini] is responsible for some of it, other guys played just as big a role. Up and down our lineup guys found ways to win, and even in our losses we were able to turn some things around.

"Even at 184 pounds with Joe Franzese, who had been pinned early in the season by the same guy, was able to save two points for us by not getting pinned and taking the major decision and that was big, because it is a victory within the victory that is important. And overall it was just a real team effort against a really solid team in American."

HOW IT HAPPENED: The match opened up at 141 pounds, with sophomore No. 24 Matt Kazimir falling by a 5-1 decision to No. 27 Sal Profaci to give American a quick 3-0 lead in the match. At 149 pounds, first-year Andrew Garr lost via fall (2:27) to No. 11 Kizhan Clarke, pushing American ahead 9-0 after the first two matches.

But it was the next three matches where Columbia would put its foot down and fight right back into the match. It started with a big win from Mosher, who worked hard to get a 10-7 decision of Ethan Karsten, to get Columbia on the board at 9-3. Next up came the momentum swinging match of the day, when at 165 pounds, Jacops, down late in the match, hit a reversal at 23 seconds to take a 5-4 lead and he would go on to win via 5-4 decision over Anthony Wokasch, bringing the score to 9-6.

Ridding the momentum wave set in motion by Mosher at 157 pounds, Wolak next put the hammer down against Ben Root, recording a win via pin at 5:17, pushing Columbia into the lead, 12-9, as the match hit the midway point. During the midway point of the match, the Lions took the time to welcome back and honor a large collection of alumni, and it gave everyone a chance to collect their thoughts as the action over the next five matches would decide the bout.

Coming out of the break, No. 16 Tanner Harvey won via major decision (19-6) over junior Joe Franzese at 184 pounds, pushing American back in front 13-12. But again, the Lions had an answer, with Wustefeld taking down Will Jarrell in a dominating performance that resulted in a 13-4 major decision victory to lock up big bouns points for the Lions, putting the score at 16-13 with three bouts remaining.

American would take the next two matches, with sophomore Danny Conley falling via a major decision, 9-1, to Niko Camacho, and sophomore No. 31 Joe Manchio, falling in a tough match to No. 24 Gage Curry, via decision 10-5, giving American a 20-16 lead heading into the final match at 133 pounds, and putting Columbia in a position, due to criteria, where the only road to victory was via a major decision or win via fall.

Rini, facing Daniel Kidd, knew the situation and from the second the whistle blew Rini went to work. He scored quickly, and began a strategy of cutting Kidd lose, then working the takedown, and with seconds remaining, and ridding time locked up, Rini nearly pinned Kidd to lock up six points. But the clock hit zero just before the pin, but Rini had already locked up the technical fall victory, 22-7, and his big five points gave the Lions an exciting and team-earned 21-20 victory over American.

Results:
141 | No. 27 Sal Profaci (American) def. No. 24 Matt Kazimir (Columbia), dec. 5-1
149 | No. 11 Kizhan Clarke (American) def. Andrew Garr (Columbia), Fall (2:27)
157 | Kyle Mosher (Columbia) def. Ethan Karsten (American), dec. 10-7
165 | Riley Jacops (Columbia) def. Anthony Wokasch (American), dec. 5-4
174 | Lennox Wolak (Columbia) def. Ben Root (American), Fall (5:17)
184 | No. 16 Tanner Harvey (American) def. Joe Franzese (American), maj. 19-6
197 | Sam Wustefeld (Columbia) def. Will Jarrell (American), maj. 13-4
285 | Niko Camacho (American) def. Danny Conley (Columbia), maj. 9-1
125 | No. 24 Gage Curry (American) def. No. 31 Joe Manchio (Columbia), dec. 10-5
133 | Angelo Rini (Columbia) def. Daniel Kidd (American), TF 22-7

UP NEXT: Columbia, after a short break, returns to action on Friday, Jan. 31 at LIU, before taking on Franklin and Marshall and Hofstra in Hempstead, New York on Saturday, Feb. 1, for a busy return to the road for the Lions.

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