FAIRFIELD, Conn. -- Looking to wrap up the 2019-20 road season with a solid result, Columbia Wrestling (8-5, 8-4 EIWA/2-3 IVY) stormed back over the final five matches to come away with a 28-16 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Conference victory over Sacred Heart (7-4, 2-3 EIWA) on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the William H. Pitt Center.
Sitting behind 12-6 after five matches, the Lions recorded wins from sophomores No. 29 Joe Manchio (125), No. 27 Matt Kazimir (141), along with first years Angelo Rini (133) and Kyle Mosher (157) to storm back thanks to all of those wins coming via either fall or technical fall. In the first five matches, Columbia got wins from first-year Lennox Wolak (174) and sophomore Sam Wustefeld (197) to place the Lions in position for the strong finish.
"These guys have a lot of resilience and it showed today," said John Huemer Assistant Coach of Wrestling Kyle Massey. "With the schedule the way it is, with three matches in two days over the weekend, it could be easy for the guys to use that as an excuse, but our guys have done a really nice job adjusting to and handling those situations.
"Right now, our guys are peaking, our practices have been great, and our guys are coming into the last weekend of the season at the right spot. It is just about time to start focusing on the EIWA Championships, and we can see them doing the right things in practice and I think it will get us to where we need to and want to be."
HOW IT HAPPENED (SACRED HEART): The action got going at 165 pounds and sophomore Sam Webster took on Brandon Levesque, and even though Webster battled hard, he fell via a 2-0 decision to open the match. But Columbia bounced right back with a win at 174 pounds when Wolak held back Joe Accousti's attempts to steal the match by locking up riding time and taking his match via decision 3-2 to tie the match up at 3-3.
Sacred Heart took back the lead when first-year Michael Baker dropped his match at 184 pounds via fall (2:22) to Kyle Davis, but Columbia again had an answer when at 197 pounds Wustefeld won his third straight match of the weekend with a 9-3 decision over Nick Fierro to put the score at 9-6. The Pioneers then took the match at 285 pounds, when sophomore Danny Conley fell via decision, 5-1, to Connor Fredericks, but with the score sitting at 12-6, Columbia begin to dig-in and begin the process of coming back.
The comeback began at 125 pounds when Manchio calmly collected a 15-0 technical fall victory over Sean Faraon to get the ball rolling. The next two matches would be the deciders for Columbia, as both matches would not make it out of the first period.
At 133 pounds, Rini came out on fire and before two minutes had elapsed Rini had stuck Kyle Randall to take the match via fall (1:56) to push the Lions in front. Next up was Kazimir, and he took Rini's idea of victory via fall and improved on it, locking up his match via fall within the first minute of his match against Gerard Daly at 141 pounds, sticking the pin at 0:48 to pad Columbia's lead and put the score at 23-12.
Senior Val Miele took to that mat at 149 pounds, and he would fall via major decision, 10-1, to Nick Palumbo, and that match would be the last win for Sacred Heart on the day. Mosher, sitting at 157 pounds, put the final touches on Columbia's comeback, knocking off Shaun Williams via technical fall, 16-0, to lock up Columbia's 28-16 comeback win over Sacred Heart.
165 | Brandon Levesque (Sacred Heart) def. Sam Webster (Columbia), dec. 2-0
174 | Lennox Wolak (Columbia) def. Joe Accousti (Sacred Heart), dec. 3-2
184 | Kyle Davis (Sacred Heart) def. Michael Baker (Columbia), fall (2:22)
197 | Sam Wustefeld (Columbia) def. Nick Fierro (Sacred Heart), dec. 9-3
285 | Connor Fredericks (Sacred Heart) def. Danny Conley (Columbia), dec. 5-1
125 | No. 29 Joe Manchio (Columbia) def. Sean Faraon (Sacred Heart), TF 15-0
133 | Angelo Rini (Columbia) def. Kyle Randall (Sacred Heart), fall (1:56)
141 | No. 27 Matt Kazimir (Columbia) def. Gerard Daly (Sacred Heart), fall (0:48)
149 | Nick Palumbo (Sacred Heart) def. Val Miele (Sacred Heart), maj. 10-1
157 | Kyle Mosher (Columbia) def. Shaun Williams (Sacred Heart), TF 16-0
UP NEXT: The Lions return home for the season finale when Columbia will honor its two seniors, Justin Choi and Miele with the Lions hosting Bucknell on Saturday, Feb. 22 with the senior day ceremonies beginning prior to the match which is scheduled to start at 2 p.m.