Cornell Pounds Hofstra 27-12;
Sends Senior Lucas Out With A Whimper

The last time that the Hofstra University wrestling team took the mat in their home arena, they fought tooth and nail, making the Ohio State University earn every inch of their 19-13 dual victory.  Sunday February 8th was an entirely different story.  On a day that the Hempstead based university honored greatness and committment, the athletes representing the host school seemed to struggle to find that same magic that made their dual with the Buckeyes so special, falling to the third ranked team in the country, Cornell, 27-12.

Kicking off the dual at 125 pounds, Cornell’s two-time All-American, Troy Nickerson won a battle of former New York State Champions, controlling the action from the feet to the tune of four takedowns, including a final score with approximately five seconds remaining in the match to secure bonus points for the visiting Big Red.   While Bonanno did battle valiantly, avoiding any nearfall points against the always tough on top Nickerson, his inexperience showed, as he was repeatedly out muscled and outworked by the Cornell veteran.  

Following the opening bout loss to fall into an early 4-0 hole, the Pride bounced back incredibly well, winning the next two bouts of the evening to take a brief, but crowd pleasing 9-4 lead.   Sparking this mini winning streak was junior, Lou Ruggirello.  0-3 in his career against Big Red opponent, Mike Grey, coming into the match, the two-time defending Colonial Athletic Association Champion picked a great time to break the schneid, scoring a takedown in the first and third periods to go along with an escape and the riding point, to post the 6-0 win over the wrestler that I previously referred to as Ruggirello’s unicorn.

RS freshman, Justin Accordino would maintain the momentum created by Ruggirello, rallying from a 7-5 second period deficit to land a big five point throw.  Once the native of Wilkes-Barre, PA had his opponent, Cornell sophomore Corey Manson, on his back, he had no intention of letting him survive.  Working tirelessly to get Manson’s shoulder down to the mat, Accordino would eventually earn the fall at the 4:05 mark.   This win got the crowd on their feet and all of a sudden, that feeling that we were about to be a part of something special overtook the crowd.  Unfortunately, the visiting Big Red had something different in mind, as they would go on to win the next six consecutive matches to establish a stranglehold on the dual.

Beginning the Cornell comeback was DJ Meagher.  Knowing that he was not facing regular Pride starter, P.J. Gillespie, who has been out the past two weeks while nursing an injured shoulder, the Big Red sophomore come out aggressive from the onset, quickly finishing a takedown on HU’s Fran O’Brien.   Dominating from the top position, Meagher was able to get a stall call on the RS freshman from Florida with a little more than a minute remaining in the opening period.  Forced to finally open up on bottom, O’Brien quickly found himself getting turned to his back for three near fall points.  Smelling blood, Meagher refused to relent, completing the fall with 54 seconds remaining in the opening frame to put his team back in front.

In what was billed as the featured bout of the dual, not only did the Pride lose the match, they may have lost the services of their 157-pound starter, Jon Bonilla-Bowman, for the remainder of the year.  Entering the dual today with what was described as a cartilage issue in his ribs, the junior from Pomona, NY wrestled the first four and a half minutes against defending National Champion, Jordan Leen, like a man on the mission.  While both wrestlers had their fair share of near takedowns, one would have to say that it was the 2008 CAA Champion who was coming forward, while his opposition was focusing more on countering.  The double goose egg would last until approximately :25 seconds to go in the second period when Leen kicked out of a JBB single-leg attempt and quickly scored with a double-leg to take the 2-0 lead.  Leen would pad the lead to 5-0 with an off the whistle escape followed by a lightning quick takedown to begin the final period.   That lead would grow to 8-0 when Leen, regarded as an extremely well versed wrestler from top, threw in a leg and utilized a crossface to take Bonilla-Bowman to his back for a five count.  It was at this point that thing went from bad to horrific for HU enthusiasts.  Grimacing in pain, Bonilla-Bowman clutched his injured ribs and everyone at press row was certain that the bout was about to be defaulted to Leen.  However, showing the heart of a lion, the Hofstra wrestler, shaking as he returned to the mat, decided to continue.  This was a decision that may have ended his junior campaign.  Off the whistle, Leen cranked back on JBB and all I heard was a scream.  Obviously overtaken by the pain, Bonilla-Bowman did not put up much of a fight from his back, surrendering a fall at the 6:44 mark…Leen later apologized to the injured Pride wrestler during the post-match handshake.  The fall would mean that the visiting Big Red would carry a 16-9 lead into the intermission.

After a 10-15 minute break that saw the host school pay tribute to outgoing senior Alton Lucas, as well as recognize the only national champion in university history, Nick Gallo, with a banner raising, the Big Red’s winning streak would continue as #1 ranked Mack Lewnes, back in the lineup after taking a few weeks off, won a methodical 3-1 decision over RS sophomore, Ryan Patrovich.  Despite both wrestlers getting in deep on shots several times throughout regulation, all we had after seven minutes was an exchange of escape points.  In fact, the defense displayed in this bout was so good that up and until the last 10 seconds, it appeared that the winner would be determined via tiebreaker.  However, with short time on the clock, a Lewnes double-leg would be all she wrote for Patrovich, who despite putting forth a very noble effort, was unable to fend off this one final shot.

At 174, everyone in the building had high hopes on sending departing senior, Alton Lucas, out on a good note.  After a scoreless first three minutes, Lucas elected to begin the second period on bottom.  While there, the senior from West Babylon, NY seemed to be plagued again by gas tank issues, as he was unable to successfully build a base, getting ridden out for the entire period to put Anceravage in the driver’s seat.  The returning All-American from Cornell was cut to begin the third period, essentially giving him a 2-0 lead.  However, as was the case in the second period, Lucas’s lack of energy seemed to hinder his ability to get his usually explosive offense into high gear.   In fact with :20 remaining in the bout and the Pride senior still trailing 1-0 (2-0 with RT), Lucas seemed so winded that he was relegated to standing motionless in the center of the the mat as the final seconds of his last home match ticked down.  There would be no grand hoorah for Mr. Lucas.

Justin Kerber would officially put a wrap on the dual one match later, scoring a pair of takedowns, combined with an escape and the riding time advantage to cruise to a 6-2 decision victory over Pride true freshman, Ben Clymer.  While Clymer was not lacking for effort, he simply could not find a home for any of his shot attempts, failing to penetrate Kerber’s defense.

Joe Fagiano continued to remain out of the lineup for the host school.  This meant that the extremely undersized Anthony Tortora would be called into duty again….And, for the first two minutes of the bout, Tortora did a fair job of holding his own, keeping the match scoreless after three minutes.  His fortunes would turn at the drop of a hat though.  In other words, when it rained, it poured, as for Cornell freshman, Cam Simaz, it was raining takedowns for the final four minutes of action.  One after another, the Michigan native kept piling on single-leg takedowns.   With the score 10-4, Simaz looked in excellent position to rack up a bonus point, in deep on a shot with :10 remaining.  However, to his credit, Tortora was able to fight it off and salvage an 11-4 loss.

The Pride would end the dual on a positive note, though, as true freshman, Jordan Enck, fought through a knee injury and significant size advantage to win a 2-1 match in the tiebreaker.  During the match, Cornell big man, Zach Hammond, was able to get in deep on more than one occasion.  Yet, relying almost entirely on his superior quickness, the HU frosh from Manheim, PA was able to fend off each and every one.   Deadlocked at one apiece after eight minutes, Hammond begin the first of the two 30 seconds ride out periods on bottom.  Getting to his feet twice, Hammond came close to getting his escape point, but could not seem to free his leg from Enck’s grasp either time as the clock struck zero….Enck would escape almost immediately to take the 2-1 lead.  From here, he did a very good job of trotting around the mat, as the larger Cornell wrestler lacked the speed to catch up to him.

Cornell-27; Hofstra-12
125- Troy Nickerson (Cornell) Maj. dec Steve Bonanno (HU), 10-2
133- Lou Ruggirello (HU) dec Mike Grey (Cornell), 6-0
141- Justin Accordino (HU) pinned Corey Manson (Cornell) 4:05
149- DJ Meagher (Cornell) pinned Fran O’Brien (HU) 2:06
157- Jordan Leen (Cornell) pinned Jon Bonilla-Bowman (HU) 6:44
165- Mack Lewnes (Cornell) dec Ryan Patrovich (HU), 3-1 SV
174- Steve Anceravage (Cornell) dec Alton Lucas (HU), 2-0
184- Justin Kerber (Cornell) dec Ben Clymer (HU), 6-2
197- Cam Simaz (Cornell) dec Anthony Tortora (HU), 11-4
285- Jordan Enck (HU) dec Zach Hammond (Cornell), 2-1 TB

10 thoughts on “Cornell Pounds Hofstra 27-12;
Sends Senior Lucas Out With A Whimper

  1. JBB showed brass b@ll$ in attempting to continue. The HU coaching and training staff showed little or no regard for their own athlete by allowing him to do so.

    Was their decision worth the risk of losing their potential CAA champion and All-American candidate?

    …..and while we’re at it, did Cornell and Jordan Leen really need the two bonus points that badly? Wouldn’t it have been enough to accept the major decision?

    Yesterday, while watching the Hofstra-Towson basketball game, I saw an NCAA commercial promoting sportmanship in athletics. Apparently, the NCAA didn’t notify Cornell before releasing it.

    Shame on both schools…..but high praise for JBB.

  2. Yes, Steven seemed to be a little over matched by Nickerson, but he hung in tough, and Nickerson was able to neutralize Steven’s offense from neutral taking the strongest part of Steven’s game away from him.

    Hats off to Lou Ruggirello. It was very nice to see him defeat a wrestler who has seemingly had his number. I felt he dominated Mike Grey.

    Accordino is an exciting wrestler to watch. His constant motion and quickness creates opportunities, and he seems to be able to capitalize on them when they present themselves.

    I love Jordan Enck’s passion. He’s an undersized heavyweight. If Jordan loses, it’s because the better opponent took that mat that evening. He’s always giving all he has in every match that I’ve seen him wrestle. That’s all we can ever expect as fans.

    I love Alton, but he always seems to wrestle tight. He’s gotta open up and create opportunities. Just go out there, have fun, don’t worry about losing, and if you do, I have a feeling that you will surprise a lot of opponents.

  3. jordan encks quickness really surprised me last night. he was very good at defending hammonds shots when he got in deep

  4. Leen’s reaction to Bonilla Bowman’s condition is hardly surprising. In certain wrestlers, no matter how civilized their off mat demeanor, its hard to reconcile this with some an apparent sense of brutality during competition. Granted, to the average observer, this seems senseless…well, to about anyone with any sense of good sportsmanship, it is senseless, period. What normal human being isn’t sickened when an injured athlete is punished unnecessarily? Granted, Bowman selected to continue, and hence to endure the rigors of battle. I guess, then, the reaction of someone who is already soundly beating him, must be to continue wrestling him as if he were uninjured? There’s no room for slack, or any other lightening up on the attack? Its not like Bowman stood any chance of winning, and he was already hopelessly behind. This is the sort of behaviour that ought to reflect heavily on the Cornell wrestling program, as much as any consideration of what a highly skilled team they are. It is what it appears to be: senseless brutality.

    1. Casper, unless Leen worked an illegal hold or purposely attacked the injured area, I have difficulty with finding anything wrong in his actions. The objective of wrestling is to win and pin your oponent. As an old football coach in my High School was fond of saying, it’s not my job to keep the score down; that’s the job of the opposing team.

      Similarly, if an opposing wrestler takes the mat, you have to assume, he’s wrestling to win. To be concerned about the well being of your opponent is the job of the opponent’s coaches, wrestler, and medical staff. The opposition has no responsibility here except to obey the rules of the sport. Leen obeyed the rules.

  5. Grand Whizzer and Casper, You are both watching the WRONG sport! I would honestly suggest you watch something else.

  6. Coach,

    Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but you’ll pardon me if I take a pass on your suggestion.
    Now, I know that D-I collegiate wrestling, like most intercollegiate sports, is competitive with emphasis on winning.
    ….and JBB is a big boy and has to take accountability for his decision to continue, but…
    I saw what happened from less than 15 feet away. It was legal, but it was unnecessary….and I’m holding to that opinion.


    The Texas H.S. basketball coach who recently ran up the score to 100-0 against an overmatched opponent would be proud of your position. They did nothing illegal, either…..but was it right?
    You were there. You know how painful it was to watch, and we both agreed that Leen had every right to do what he did. But did he have reason?

    My post, and Leen’s expressed concern for JBB during the post-match handshakes, indicate that maybe…just maybe…the whole incident could have been avoided had the zeal to win not overcome common decency and sportsmanship.

  7. Grand Whizzer,

    Earlier this season Hofstra blew out Wagner by a score of 53-0 in a dual meet where Hofstra scored bonus points in every bout: 5 pins, 3 TFs, and 2 MDs. By the time the 197lbs weight class was to be contested, Hofstra was ahead 42-0, already a blowout.

    It was Piscitello’s turn to take the mat, a wrestler who may never break the lineup at Hofstra. What do you tell him? As the coach, do you ask him to hold back? Should Piscitello have decided himself to win this one by decision or even maybe – lose – in the name of sportsmanship?

    After Piscitello pins, Jordan Enck, a true freshman, takes the mat at 285 with the score 48-0 and the blowout victory unmistakeably secured – even if Jordan Enck loses by a pin! If you’re the coach, what do you tell him? The victory was secured 3 bouts earlier. What’s the sportsmanship thing to do? Jordan defeated his opponent by Tech. Fall in the last bout of a blowout dual meet.

    Leen was wrestling a top 20 wrestler at his weight. The dual meet score going into JBB’s match was 10-9 Cornell. At that instant, could the Cornell team know that the bonus points would not be required for a win of the dual meet match? Only 2 matches earlier, it looked as though Hofstra may pull off an upset.

    Circumstances do play into our conclusion as to whether a situation is unsportsmanlike. Under these circumstances, I’m unpersuaded that this situation fell to that low level: two top 20 wrestlers with the team score at 10-9 and Hofstra’s hopes of an upset team victory resting on the outcome of that bout. Immediately after the JBB bout, Ryan Patrovich and Alton Lucas follow for Hostra, two wrestlers that could have turned the dual meet in Hofstra’s favor with wins, and nearly win they did.

  8. Grand Whizzer, I read what you and Casper wrote and truly feel you both do not understand WRESTLING! You say ” you know it is competitive with an emphasis on winning.” That my friend is the understatement of the year for College Wrestling.

    Wrestling is a fight with rules. The higher the level you compete at, the more brutal it becomes. The two wrestlers where doing everything they could to help there team win. As was pointed out, the team score was very close. There are no substitutions, the Hofstra wrestler knows if he can’t continue, he gives up 6.

    I don’t know the kid, but I get the feeling he would rather be carried off the mat than let his team down. For that I salute him! I would suggest you read the book, WRESTLING TOUGH to gain a better understanding of the sport, because there is NO SPORT IN THE WORLD LIKE IT!

  9. Guys,

    I’m all for the open and civil exchange of opinion. Regardless of one’s beliefs or bias, it fosters an opportunity to educate and be educated.
    It’s also good for the website when there’s a little polite dissonance. Whether an expert or a novice, it’s nice to have a place to voice your perspective without fear of ridicule or reprisal.
    Still, I’m going to end this exchange, and I’ll tell you why….
    I think it’s pointless for three people who are invested in this website….one as the proprietor, one as a feature writer, and the third as a “close relative” to the webiste’s principal staff reporter….to engage in debate. The comments option is intended for use by the site’s visitors and supporters…not for us.
    That said, I am going to acknowledge that, with the dual score at 10-9 at the time of the Leen/JBB match, Leen’s actions seem less objectionable. There was no way for Leen to know that the end result of the dual would negate the need for the two extra team points. I stand corrected.
    On some of the other points of discussion, we’re just going to have to “agree to disagree”. Wrestling, even at the highly competitive D-I level, is not war. Athletes are not soldiers. Kellen Winslow foolishly made that comparison while at the University of Miami, and was soundly criticized for disrespecting those members of our Armed Forces who truly are soldiers. The parallel is overzealous. JBB most certainly wouild not want to be carried off the mat as a badge of heroism.

    Last March, Matt and I had the privilege to attend the NCAA Wrestling Tournament in St. Louis….not as correspondents or reporters, but merely as fans of collegiate wrestling and Hofstra University. Our seats allowed us an advantageous view of the Dave Tomasette-Anthony Robles match at 125.
    Quite honestly, we were torn between our loyalty to Hofstra and our respect and admiration for a truly remarkable Robles. It was a match we didn’t really want to see happen. We wanted both competitors to achieve All-American status.
    Well, as you gents might recall, Tomasette had the advantage going into the 2nd period until Robles, who is an extremely powerful wrestler from on top, tried to tilt Tomasette to his back. In fighting the move, Tomaswtte’s shoulder was painfully dislocated, forcing him to default.
    As bad as we felt for Tomasette, we understood that it was part of the sport. We’re not new to the sport. We’ve travelled up and down the eastern seaboard for the past 6 years covering and observing the finest wrestlers in the sport. We don’t need books to tell us about what D-I wrestling is all about.

    Finally….and I *do* mean finally since this will be my last comment on this subject, I’m a pretty fair and impartial guy, but certainly not above turning a critical eye when I feel it is warranted. Below, I have copied my commentary on the Wagner-Hofstra dual. While I don’t see the parallel between the Wagner and Cornell duals, I do have an opinion that is similar in nature, but different in context, to Bill’s.

    It’s been fun, gentlemen.


    There’s one question that just begs asking……


    Back in the not so distant past, when Wagner was a member of the CAA wrestling conference, the Pride used the compulsory Wagner dual as an opportunity to give a little competitive mat time to the guys who work their tail ends off all season in the wrestling and weight rooms, but who sit behind more polished wrestlers on the Hofstra depth chart.
    The Wagner dual was often scheduled as part of a ‘doubleheader’, with the starters facing the more challenging competitors and the reserves toiling against the local Seahawks from Staten Island.
    Under the circumstances, the annual dual made perfect sense.

    But time and circumstances have changed. Hofstra no longer ranks among the elite Top 15 programs in the country and Wagner no longer wrestles under the CAA banner.
    So how does this dual benefit the relatively young and inexperienced Pride?

    You could say that the starting 10 needed a break, coming off of this past weekend’s tournament in Brockport, but that justification would be a complete crock.
    With the exception of Ruggirello, JBB, Lucas, Fagiano and possibly Patrovich, the young and developing Pride wrestlers need to be continually challenged by counterparts with equal or superior credentials and pedigrees if they hope to successfully compete against conference and nationally ranked opponents.
    Better yet…..remember that only Lucas has already achieved All-American status among the Hofstra veterans. Ruggirello and Bonilla-Bowman, who were close, and both Patrovich and Fagiano can all contend for a place on the medal stand if they continue to get better.
    Wrestling Wagner wasn’t going to advance those goals.
    Wrestling Wagner wasn’t going to better prepare the Pride for the events of next March…..or even for the upcoming duals against Penn State and Missouri.
    Wrestling Wagner wasn’t even an upgrade in competition over the Wrestle-Offs held at Northport H.S.

    So, again, I ask the question, “WHY WAGNER?”

    The only benefit that can be derived from this dual is that the Pride, as a team, most certainly won the dual……and the wrestlers themselves added a plus number to their individual win columns.
    That said, I’m reasonably sure that these young men didn’t enroll at Hofstra to pad their numbers or to falsely inflate their worth with meaningless wins.
    I’m just hoping that the schedule makers share that philosophy.
    There’s only five home matches on this year’s plate, and only a limited number of non-conference opportunities available to develop both the young and veteran wrestlers.
    You can’t convince me that we didn’t just throw one away when we scheduled this dual.

    By the way, if you think that these comments were meant to disrespect the Wagner wrestling program, you are completely incorrect. Those young men work just as hard as the Pride wrestlers. They’re just simply not as accomplished or talented.
    Hofstra showed the willing Seahawks more disrespect by scheduling them for their “Homecoming” match.

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