Wrestling closes out regular season with victory
Seniors Eckhart, Kasunic and Dempsey victories on senior night for Eagles
By the time redshirt senior Brett Dempsey took the mat at Bender Arena for the final time in his career, the AU wrestling team was already guaranteed a dual meet victory over Ohio. The 26th ranked heavyweight was determined, though, to end his home career with a victory.
Seven minutes of regulation was not enough time to separate Dempsey and the Bobcats’ Jack Parker. In sudden victory overtime, Dempsey hooked Parker’s legs and pulled his opponent to the mat to earn a 3-1 decision and give his team a 20-12 victory at Bender Arena Saturday night.
“We knew that we were going to wrap the dual up late in that match as long as Brett didn’t do anything crazy,” head coach Teague Moore said. “But to know that, as a senior, he could close it out it with a victory was just phenomenal.”
Fellow seniors Michael Eckhart (174 pounds) and Jeric Kasunic (197 pounds) also earned victories in their final matches at Bender Arena. Eckhart’s 7-2 victory was his third in four dual meets. Kasunic, the 10th ranked wrestler in his weight class, earned his 30th victory of the season in a 10-2 major decision. Kasunic becomes only the 13th wrestler in program history to record 30 victories in a single season and is three victories away from securing 100 in his career.
The Eagles’ (8-6) victory over the Bobcats (4-7) ensured they ended the season with a winning dual meet record for the first time since Moore’s first season with the program in 2011-12.
The meet began at 125 pounds, where freshman Gage Curry started the match quickly against Trevor Giallombardo. Curry scored a 2-point takedown seconds into the bout and retained control for the ensuing seven minutes, earning three more takedowns and accumulating over four minutes of riding time en route to an 11-2 major victory.
The Eagles then lost the following two bouts to fall behind in the team score 6-4. Redshirt junior Josh Terao fell to 16th ranked Cameron Kelly 9-3 in the 133-pound bout and freshman Kizhan Clarke dropped an 8-5 decision in the 141-pound bout.
Redshirt junior Michael Sprague ended his regular season with a commanding victory at 149 pounds. The 19th ranked 149-pounder took control after a scoreless first period by riding opponent Kade Kowalski for the entire second period before earning a two-point reversal in the third period.
Freshman Eric Hong earned his 13th win of the season at 157-pounds 3-2 with a late escape and a takedown with ten seconds remaining in the bout. Hong’s victory sent AU into the intermission with a 10-6 team advantage.
Despite the team advantage, Moore felt his team lacked energy in the first five bouts, and delivered a message to his team in the ten-minute intermission.
“The message was very clear: the first three bouts that we won in the first five, those three came out and wrestled hard for seven minutes,” Moore said. “[Our message was] it’s going to take a full seven minute match. If things don’t go our way in the first period, we can’t stop wrestling.”
Anthony Wokasch and Prince Hyeamang responded with energy and spirit in their bouts at 165 and 184 pounds respectively but were unable to secure victories. Eckhart, Kasunic and Dempsey’s victories all came after the intermission.
The Eagles have two weeks off before travelling to Hofstra University on March 3 for the EIWA conference championships.
“We get one week to push and then we’ll start to taper and work our way into EIWAs so we can make sure we are at a best when we get to the conference championships,” Moore said.