Return to the Lions’ Den: Hofstra Kicks Off ’09’-10 Season With Wrestle-Offs

This morning, a small but immensely enthusiast crowd journeyed to Islip High School to watch as the Hofstra University wrestling team took their first steps in what has the potential to be another successful season for the nine time defending conference champions (eight of which have come as members of the Colonial Athletic Association) by holding their annual wrestle-offs.

Divided into teams representing the University’s colors of Blue and Gold, 15 incredibly talented student-athletes took to the match to give the “fannies” a taste for what they can expect to see over the course of the next five months…With such a young squad returning from last season, today’s festivities offered the Pride a faithful the opportunity to see the level of progression made from one year to the next by HU’s young guns. In addition, with newcomers expected to break into the lineup at 133, 141, and 285 respectively, today’s competition marked a welcoming/initiation of some sought….No one failed to disappoint !!!

Starting off at the 141-pounds, the battle for the singlet pitted true freshman versus redshirt freshman as blue-chip recruit Luke Vaith took to the mat against Tyler Banks (who was defeated by Justin Accordino in last year’s wrestle-off at the same weight)….After a scoreless first period, Banks showed a great ability to ride, controlling the 2009 Minnesota State Champion for the entire two minutes. An early third period escape by Banks would finally break the 0-0 deadlock while also maintaining his 1:00+ minute riding time advantage. With no additional scoring in the bout, Banks would emerge with the 2-0 decision, giving the Gold Team the early 3-0 lead in the team race.

Next up, 2009 CAA 3rd-place finisher, 184- Ben Clymer would be matched up with Jon Rothman…Getting on the board first with a TD approximately two minutes into the opening stanza, Clymer demonstrated the same skills from top that made him competitive in just about every match last season (regardless of opponent). Clymer would go on to ride out the last minute to hold the 2-0 lead after the initial period…The former Pennsylvania AA State Champion would increase his lead to 5-0 after the second period, tallying an escape and TD before riding out his second consecutive period….The final two minutes of the bout would be more of the same for the sophomore from Greenville, PA, as he scored seven points on a takedown and a pair of tilts to open up the lead to 12-0. The riding point would account for the final 13-0 margin. The victory would be up the Gold team’s lead to 7-0.

True freshman, 133- Jamie Franco, would get the Blue squad on the board, utilizing a pair of takedowns, a reversal, and the riding time advantage to account for a 7-1 decision over 2009 spot starter Jeff Rotella. The “w” would be the first of what would end being two on the day for the 2008 NYS Champion/3x finalist from Monroe-Woodbury. In the final bout of the morning, Franco would again rely on his supreme defensive skills, fighting off a number of deep shots, and securing a TD and reversal to go along with the riding time point to blank fellow true freshman, Dan Manley, 4-0…In all, Franco would earn nearly half of his team’s points, accounting for six of Blue’s final tally of 13 points.

Taking the mat in the fourth contest of the event was defending CAA Champion/NCAA Round of 12, P.J. Gillespie…Up two weight classes from his title performance at 149 in 2009, Gillespie definitively showed that the jump up should not be a cause of concern for any HU supporters…Pitted against Ryan Colmer, Gillespie, the former Long Beach High School stud was as sharp as ever, utilizing a TD and RO to lead 2-0 at the end of the first period. After escaping to begin the middle stanza, Gillespie would again convert on his shot attempt to grow the lead to 5-0. Again he would ride out his teammate to keep the shutout in tact….Hungry to lock up bonus points for the Blue team, the former NYS Champion stayed on the attack, adding a pair of takedowns (the second of which came with only :27 remaining in the bout) to increase the lead to 9-2. With well over one minute of riding time advantage, Gillespie would claim the four team points by a score of 10-2….The win would temporarily tie the score at 7-7.

In perhaps the most spectacular individual display of big point potential, 2009 CAA runner-up Justin Accordino (up to 149 this season after wrestling at 141 in 2009) exploded for 11 first period points against his opponent, former Sachem North wrestler Justin Patus. Having secured the first takedown of the bout quickly, Accordino followed up a Patus escape by locking up cradle for 2+2 to pad the lead to 6-1…After cutting his freshman opponent to make the score 6-2, Accordino gave the crowd (or at the very least, ME) the move they had all come to see, hitting his bread-and-butter cement mixer for 2+3. He would ride out the closing seconds of the period to keep the lead at 11-2….Starting on bottom to begin the second period, Accordino would quickly execute a reversal followed immediately by a tilt for 3-NF…With the margin of lead now at 14, Accordino elected to cut Patus, before would put the finishing touches on the bout, scoring the takedown only a few seconds later…The native of Wilkes-Barre would add the riding point to his impressive “points in bunches” demonstration, surging the Gold team back ahead 12-7 via a 19-3 (4:05) technical fall.

2009 spot starter Anthony Tortora would respond for the Blue team, more than likely locking up the starting position at 197-pounds by virtue of a 4-1 decision over Lawrence Beckman…After a defensive battle in the first period resulted in no points being scored, it would be the senior Tortora who struck first, escaping from bottom early into the middle frame to take the slimmest of leads, 1-0…The Horace Greeley product would grow the lead to 3-0 when he successfully converted a smooth takedown attempt with just under a minute remaining in the second period. He would go on to ride out the remainder of the period to take a comfortable three point advantage into the final two minutes of the contest…The Keystone Stater Beckman would get on the board with an escape in the third period. However, he would not be able to do so before his more experienced opponent was able to go above the 1:00 riding time advantage. With neither man able to penetrate the defenses of the other, the match would without further incident…Tortora’s victory would bring the Blue team within a margin of two (12-10), but they would not get any closer as their Golden foes would win two of the final three bouts, earning bonus points in both.

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