The holiday season is upon us and for many that means shoveling sideways and checking snow tires, but for the EIWA it means getting in a final tuneup before the winter break and the grueling spring semester.
Cornell finished the fall semester exactly where it began: No. 1. The Big Red flexed their muscles at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestlnig Invitational, taking first in the packed field. Three grapplers took first in their individual brackets as Mack Lewnes (174), Steve Bosak (184), and Cam Simaz (197) all struck gold.
Four other EIWA programs tested their luck in Vegas as Navy, Brown, Harvard, and Columbia jetted out West. Harvard took 17th overall thanks to Corey Jantzen, who finished second in the 149-pound bracket. Walter Peppelman rounded out the Crimson placing with a fourth-place finish at 157 pounds.
Navy placed 18th as senior Bryce Saddoris moved into sole possession of fourth all time on the Navy wins list. The 157-pounder continued his final campaign by posting a third place finish. Luke Rebertus also placed for the Midshipmen as the 184-pounder finished seventh.
Columbia took 24th at the Invitational behind two podium-placing grapplers. Eren Civan finished seventh at 165 pounds and Kevin Lester also finished seventh, but in the heavyweight bracket. Brown was unable to place anybody in Las Vegas, finishing 31st overall.
The Nittany Lion Open this past weekend boasted an array of wrestlers participating both attached and unattached. Rutgers left some of its big guns at home, but brought plenty of depth to Happy Valley and it paid off, as six Scarlet Knights finished in the top eight.
Leading the way for Rutgers was Minnesota transfer Mario Mason. The sophomore wrestled in a 62-man bracket at 149 pounds and went 6-0 on the day. His final matchup came against No. 2 Frank Molinaro of Penn State. The bout was a rematch of two weeks ago when Molinaro got the better of Mason, winning 4-3. This time around, the match went into overtime, where Mason earned a quick and decisive takedown to avenge the loss and take the tournament with the 3-1 decision.
Rutgers showed off its depth at 125 pounds with sophomores Matt Fusco and Joe Langel each reaching the semifinals. Langel went on to finish second while Fusco ended up at fourth. Lehigh transfer Alex Caruso put together a solid day of wrestling at 174 pounds, finishing third with a convincing 7-1 over No. 9 Scott Giffin of Penn. Trevor Melde (141) and Carl Buchholz (Hvy) rounded out the Scarlet Knights’ place winners with finishes of fourth and sixth place in their respective brackets.
Penn’s Zack Kemmerer also had a strong showing in Happy Valley, taking second at 141 pounds. The No. 20 wrestler in the land took down Rutgers’ Trevor Melde by a 6-0 score in the semifinals in a bout that boasted the EIWA’s top two 141-pounders.
Dashing Through the Duals
Two EIWA schools went head to head this past week at the site of this year’s conference tournament. Lehigh took the ride to Lewisburg, Pa., to battle Bucknell in a matchup of two premier Pennsylvania programs. The Mountain Hawks took the match, 25-9, thanks to victories in the final four bouts of the dual, including major decisions from Robert Hamlin (184) and No. 1 heavyweight Zach Rey. Stephen Dutton and Frank Cagnina recorded major decisions early on at 141 and 133 pounds, respectively. The Bison put together three consecutive wins from 149 to 165 as No. 4 Kevin LeValley (149) posted a 4-0 victory over Joseph Napoli.
Princeton kicked off its dual meet season this past week by taking on Binghamton and Liberty. The Tigers dropped both matches, falling to Binghamton 27-11 and Liberty 28-15. Sophomore 125-pounder Garrett Frey was the only Tiger wrestler to go 2-0 on the day. Last year’s EIWA runner-up pinned Joel Stafford of Liberty and earned a tech fall against Binghamton’s Ryan Gerondel, 20-5.
Franklin & Marshall took on VMI in a dual down South, but were unable to get the win, losing 24-13. It was a hard-fought dual, but a streak of losses from 157 to 184 proved to be the Diplomats’ downfall. Colin Ely earned a pin at 197 pounds to keep F&M close.
Wrestler of the Week
Cornell’s Mack Lewnes might want to open up a tab at some Las Vegas casinos as the 174-pounder came away from Sin City with his third straight title at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Wrestling Invitational. Lewnes used a 5-2 decision over Oklahoma’s Tyler Caldwell to catapult himself into the finals where he faced Central Michigan’s Ben Bennett for the third time this year. Like the first two times, Lewnes came away with the victory, winning 6-2.