Wrestling falls 28-13 to Air Force
Despite the loss, stand-out performances from two true freshmen indicate hope for the future of the AU wrestling program
The AU wrestling team (7-10) extended their losing streak at home falling 28-13 to the Air Force Falcons (8-4) in Bender Arena on Sunday, despite three individual wins. The team also fell to Lock Haven 24-9 on Saturday.
Despite the loss, 165-pound true freshman Caleb Campos’ major decision victory and true freshman Raymond Lopez’s, who has been weighing in at 133, 5-2 comeback win indicate positives for the future of the American University wrestling program.
“Caleb Campos and Ray Lopez have definitely our most consistent and best work ethics on the team,” head coach Jason Borrelli said. “They work very hard.”
Campos earned his sixth major decision victory of the season on Sunday. Campos aggressively executed early and got the first takedown, allowing him to lead 5-3 after the first period. He scored 1 point in the second with an escape. In the third, Campos got two more takedowns and a 2-point near fall. Campos also secured the riding time in the third needed to get the 12-4 win.
“We point to them a lot because they do not have the mindset of true freshmen,” Borrelli said.
Borrelli said he made the decision to give Lopez a chance to compete instead of redshirt sophomores 141-pounders Elijah White and Ethan Szerencsits because Lopez matched up well with his Air Force opponent, 141-pounder Garrett Kuchan. Borrelli said Lopez’s style, mental strength and ability to battle a true seven minutes all contributed to why he was chosen.
Though Lopez wrestled up, the question of whether he could give up eight pounds and still be competitive was answered by his performance. After giving up points in the first two periods, the freshman came back to life in the third. In the third, Lopez secured the 9-6 win with an escape, takedown and a 4-point near fall.
“When you believe in yourself and when you are in good enough shape to wrestle for the full seven minutes, good things can happen even if you are losing,” Borrelli said.
Lopez said he was happy to get a win in front of the home crowd.
“Just keeping my cool was pretty special,” Lopez said.
Lopez also said he was excited for the rest of his time on the team. He said he was looking forward to growing with the team.
“All through the lineup you see guys just making leaps and bounds, and it’s been showing from the beginning of the season till now,” Lopez said. “It’s really starting to build that family dynamic throughout the team. I am really excited to see that build through my next few years here.”
Though Air Force has nationally ranked wrestlers up and down its lineup, the Eagles fought hard but ultimately could not secure the win on Sunday. Some of the bouts were decided in the third period when the Eagles could not hold off the Air Force.
Borrelli said after the Air Force dual that the Eagles were not great on the bottom and faced the problem of not being able to finish many takedowns.
Lack of effort and talent were not the culprits of the Eagles’ back-to-back losses this past weekend. The Lock Haven loss still had positives as bouts were competitive. The Eagles’ eight losses were decided by 5 or fewer points.
Despite a weekend of losing and the “Bender Curse,” as Borrelli calls it, still haunting the Eagles, the team exerted a strong effort against the tough and physical Air Force team.
“We gotta get over the Bender Curse right now,” Borrelli said.
The Eagles have one last opportunity to break the curse and improve on bottom at home on Friday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. when the Eagles host Binghamton and celebrate Senior Day and Alumni Day.
This article was edited by Penelope Jennings, Delaney Hoke and Nina Heller. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Natasha LaChac.