Wrestlers Fitzpatrick and Curry place third at EIWA Championships, Clarke out due to COVID protocols
Eagles place 9th while Fitzpatrick and Curry head to NCAA Championships
AU wrestlers Tim Fitzpatrick (174 pounds) and Gage Curry (125 pounds) both finished in third place at the EIWA Championships Friday and will now advance to the NCAA Championships. Fitzpatrick, a redshirt sophomore, went 3-1 before placing third due to Lehigh wrestler Jake Logan’s medical forfeit. Fitzpatrick was seeded seventh to open the day and improved from last year's tournament, where he finished eighth.
Curry’s third-place finish marks his fourth consecutive year with a top-four finish and his second third-place finish. The redshirt senior, who plans on returning next year, according to AU Athletics spokesperson Karen Angell, earned an automatic NCAA Championship bid with his performance.
Sophomore wrestler Patrick Ryan (141 pounds) finished eighth, besting his entrance as a 10-seed. Ryan lost to Bucknell wrestler Kurt Phipps in the quarterfinals, though he wrestled impressively against Binghamton wrestler Dane Heberlein in the consolation bracket.
“I'm proud of the way our guys showed up today," interim coach Jason Grimes said. "We were able to put all three on the podium and got two to nationals. These guys haven’t stepped onto a competition mat since last year's EIWA Tournament while all the other teams came in with multiple competitions this season. This just shows a commitment to their craft and a strong desire to compete despite a multitude of obstacles thrown at them this year.”
As a team, the Eagles finished ninth in the 10-team field, with Lehigh placing first. The Eagles placed ninth last year, although it was out of 17 teams. The absence of star wrestler and last season's team MVP Kizhan Clarke certainly hurt the team's placement, as he was unable to compete due to coronavirus health and safety protocols. He plans to return next season, according to Angell.
With Clarke out and Tanner Harvey opting out for the season, the Eagles didn’t have two of their top three place-winners from last year's EIWA Championships. With Clarke and Curry returning next season, the Eagles will look to redeem themselves at the 2022 EIWA Championships.
As for Fitzpatrick and Curry, they’ll begin preparing for the 2021 NCAA DI Wrestling Championships, scheduled for March 18-20 at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.