No. 1 Ryan Flores, No. 13 Matt Mariacher and Kevin Tao shined for the AU wrestling team at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships at Princeton University March 3-4.
The nation’s top-ranked heavyweight, Flores renewed his rivalry with Lehigh University’s Zach Rey in the finals. Rey got out to a 1-0 lead with an escape with 1:45 left in the second period, before Flores got on the board with an escape in the third to tie the match 1-1.
The match went to extra time and with seven seconds remaining, Flores got the takedown to claim the match 3-1.
The win for Flores marks the third EIWA championship of his collegiate career and his second with the Eagles. The heavyweight also became the first AU wrestler to win the Billy Sheridan Memorial Trophy, which is awarded for the most falls in the least amount of time. Flores will enter the NCAA Championships at 17-0.
Throughout the tournament, Flores showed the skills that have made him one of the country’s best. He won his first three matches all by pinfall, and in his semifinal match against Cornell University’s Maciej Jochym, Flores recorded the pin in only 40 seconds.
The fifth seed at 141 pounds, Mariacher won his second straight EIWA championship when he defeated second-seeded Michael Nevinger of Cornell, 6-4. Mariacher always led in his championship bout, never looking back after earning an early 2-0 lead en route to the title.
Flores and Mariacher became the fourth and fifth AU wrestlers to record multiple EIWA championships.
While Flores and Mariacher took titles, Tao had one of the event’s most notable performances. Despite starting out as an eight seed, Tao placed second in the 149-pound weight class.
The junior pulled a major upset when he beat top-seeded (and No. 6 in the country) Mario Mason from Rutgers University in the quarterfinals. Tao got out to a 2-0 lead, before Mason had to withdraw due to injury.
In the semis, Tao edged Penn State’s Stephen Robinson 3-2, before his run came to an end in the championship at the hands of Lehigh’s Shane Welsh.
No. 3 Ganbayar Sanjaa posted a third-place finish in the 157-pound group. After making it to the semifinals, Sanjaa lost to Walter Peppelman of Harvard University. In the consolation finals, Sanjaa picked up an 8-3 decision over Princeton’s Daniel Kolodzik.
Thomas Williams at 125 and Daniel Mitchell at 197 each placed sixth for the Eagles.
As a team, AU finished in third place with 103 points, which is a program-best at the EIWA Championships. Cornell won the event with 151.5 points.
The next and final test for the wrestling team will be at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. Flores, Mariacher, Tao and Sanjaa all earned automatic bids with their performances over the weekend. The Eagles could receive additional entrants when the at-large bids are announced March 7.