After eight grueling, physical matches, AU wrestling’s dual meet against Drexel Sunday in Bender Arena came down to the final bout between two nationally ranked wrestlers. Redshirt junior Josh Terao, ranked ninth at 133 pounds, and Drexel’s Austin DeSanto, ranked fourth, wrestled a back-and-forth match that was ultimately decided by a DeSanto takedown in sudden victory overtime. DeSanto’s win handed Drexel a 25-16 team victory.
Terao battled through an ankle injury to level the match at 8 late in the third period before a long video review interrupted the flow of the match. Head coach Teague Moore protested the timing of the officials' interruption of the match to review an event that had happened at the halfway point of the final period.
“In the end, I have to take the judgment of the officials as a good judgment call,” Moore said. “I don’t necessarily know if I agree with it, but they made the call that they did and we end up in a tied situation with 43 seconds to go, so it’s anyone’s match at that point. I was happy with Josh with the match that he had wrestled up to that point, [but after that] we allowed our opponent to get to his strengths.”
The dual meet began with the 141-pound bout, where freshman Kizhan Clarke faced off against Drexel’s (11-4, 5-4 EIWA) Justin Flores. Clarke and Flores traded one-point escapes before Clarke earned a takedown in the match’s final seconds to secure the individual victory for the Eagles (6-6, 3-3 EIWA). Despite the “gritty” victory from Clarke, Moore said his team’s collective performance in dual meet was below expectations.
“I don’t feel that we wrestled the best we could have wrestled,” Moore said. “We’ve seen some days where we’ve had more fight in certain situations.”
Nineteenth ranked 149-pounder Michael Sprague earned a 10-2 major decision against Evan Barzack to give AU an early 7-0 team lead in the dual meet. Sprague’s victory was his third straight dual meet victory and improved his dual meet record to 19-10 for the season.
After Sprague and Clarke’s victories, AU lost the next four bouts against nationally ranked wrestlers to fall behind 16-7. The Eagles deficit in the team score increased when AU lost the 197-pound bout by forfeit. Tenth ranked Jeric Kasunic was held out of matchup against 17th ranked Stephen Loiseau, increasing the Eagles’ deficit to 22-7. Moore said the team needs to “take care of a few things” before Kasunic is ready to return to the mat.
Redshirt senior heavyweight Brett Dempsey regained momentum for the Eagles by earning a third period fall against the Dragons’ Sean O’Malley. Gage Curry grinded out a 3-2 victory in the 125-pound bout to pull the Eagles within six points of the team score before Terao’s loss.
“Brett Dempsey turned the tide and got the energy going our way, I think Gage Curry feeds off that,” Moore said. “Gage Curry wrestled a really good match and found a really solid match. Josh’s match [at 133-pounds] could have gone either way.”
The Eagles return to the mat Thursday on the road against George Mason before returning home to Bender on Saturday for their final home dual meet of the season against Ohio University at 7 p.m.