Wrestling loses tight 24-16 contest to Bucknell
Senior Mitchell Wightman earns major decision, but Bucknell seals the win with a major decision in the heavyweight division
After a 4-0 victory from AU sophomore Jeric Kasunic in the 197-pound bout, AU pulled within two points of Bucknell in the team score during Saturday morning’s dual. However, a pin by Bucknell senior captain heavyweight Joe Stolfi, ranked 8th in the country, over freshman Jake Scanlan gave Bucknell the 24-16 victory over the Eagles.
“It was a much better fight [from our guys] than we’ve had in some past performances,” AU head coach Teague Moore said. “The guys had some good spirit today, and I think it showed in a lot of seven-minute matches that we battled the whole time.”
AU secured an early 6-0 advantage when AU senior captain David Terao, ranked 14th nationally in the 125-pound weight class, won via forfeit. The lead vanished, however, when 133-pound freshman James Giacca was pinned in 1:16 by Bucknell junior Grim Gonzalez to tie the match at six.
Bucknell took the 141- and 149-pound bouts in tight contests, 7-3 and 5-2 respectively, to pull ahead 12-6. Both matches were decided when Bucknell scored takedowns late in the matches.
Senior captain John Boyle, No. 14 in the 157-pound weight class, set the Eagles back on track by winning a tight bout, 4-1, over Bucknell freshman Zach Kelly. Senior Mitchell Wightman’s followed Boyle’s win with 15-6 major decision victory over Bucknell senior Robert Schlitt.
Wightman led 4-2 heading into the second period and pulled away with a four-point near fall and a two-point reversal takedown to take a commanding 10-4 lead. He added another near fall in the third period. After Wightman’s bout, the Eagles regained the lead 13-12.
Moore believes Wightman’s performance indicates he has shaken off the rust of sitting out a year after transferring from Boston University
“Mitch is coming on at the right time of the year,” Moore said. “This season, he’s now getting to the point where he’s getting really comfortable in his positions, he’s attacking . He’s [also] starting to put a lot of points up on the board in his matches.”
The Eagles lost the next two matches after Wightman’s victory, as No. 20 Rustin Barrick, a senior at Bucknell, defeated AU sophomore Michael Eckhart 8-5 and sophomore Tom Sleigh defeated junior Jason Grimes in a tight 5-4 decision. AU entered the final two matches trailing 18-13. Moore cited the team’s close matches, an improvement from previous dual meets, as a spark for the team’s high energy level in their final matches.
“When you see your teammates giving up big points, that’s discouraging. That’s what we’ve been battling in some [previous] dual meets,” Moore said. “Now guys are fighting for every little thing and you can see that energy level carry over into the next set of matches.”
The high energy levels translated into a victory for AU in the 197-pound match, with Kasumic’s pulled out the win over Bucknell junior Tyler Greene. In the heavyweight match, Scanlon wrestled a close match against Stolfi and trailed 7-5 after two periods. However, in the third period, Stolfi recorded a reversal, two-point near fall and four-point near fall in quick succession, before earning a fall with 0:04 left in the match.
The Eagles travel to Old Dominion Sunday, and Moore hopes his team’s improved fight and spirit can translate into better results.
“We see a lot of ranked opponents [against Old Dominion],” Moore said. “Our message to our guys has been ‘perform at our best every time the whistle blows.’ And we did that today, it’s something we’re getting back to that [as a team]. I think if we do that [going forward] it’s going to work to our advantage.”