Navy Seventh, Four Advance for Mids at EIWA Championship
March 8, 2014
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — The opening day of the 110th EIWA Championship held at The Palestra in Philadelphia came to a close Saturday evening with Navy tied for seventh (42.5) in the team standings and four Mids advancing to Sunday’s finale, including semifinalist Mathew Miller (Edgewood, Md.).
“I’m disappointed that we don’t have more guys still in the competition with the opportunity to move on to nationals, but the effort was there today,” said Navy interim head coach Brian Antonelli. “Our goal is to get as many guys on the podium and moving on to the NCAA Championship, but our focus is on the four guys that will be on the mat for us tomorrow.”
Miller, Navy’s lone wrestler remaining in the championship side of the bracket, weaved his way through the bracket, first claiming an 8-2 win over Princeton’s Ryan Callahan. The third-seeded Miller then punched his way into the semifinals by way of his 10th fall of the season, this time at 4:16 against sixth-seeded Phillip Bakuckas of Rutgers. Miller, who lost in last year’s championship bout, will face the No. 2 seed Shane Hughes of Columbia in the semifinals Saturday morning. It will be the first match between the two this season. Meanwhile, only the top three placewinners will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship at 174 pounds.
Three Navy wrestlers are battling their way back through the consolation bracket. Third-seeded Colton Rasche (Plano, Ill.) was dealt a surprising 3-2 upset in his opening match by American’s Esteban Gomez-Rivera who is unseeded. Rasche pinned Gomez-Rivera a month ago in a dual victory.
Rasche, though, is still vying for one of the four allocated automatic bids, as he came back to pin Princeton’s Garrett Frey (2:00) and earned a 4-2 sudden victory over Boston University’s Dane Harlowe. Rasche heads into the final day of competition at the EIWA Championship with a 24-10 record and will battle fifth-seeded Angelo Amenta of Columbia. The two wrestlers have not met this season.
Senior Alex Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.) is making the most out of his first and last appearance at the EIWA Championship. Johnson, who is seeded seventh at 149 pounds, opened the day with a 17-5 major decision over Sacred Heart’s Brendan Goldup before second-seeded Mitchell Minotti of Lehigh sent him to the consolation bracket with a 6-1 loss.
Johnson bounced back with a 4-3 decision over Nick Tourville of Boston University and will face sixth-seeded Victor Lopez of Bucknell on Sunday. Johnson would need to win two more matches to earn an automatic bid the NCAA Championship as the EIWA has been allocated four spots at 149 pounds.
Seventh-seeded Paul Rands (Cary, Ill.) dropped an 8-3 decision to 10th-seeded Francis Mattiace of Penn in the opening round of the 197-pound weight class. Rands, who came in having won seven in a row, came back like a man on a mission. He pinned Hofstra’s Zeal McGrew in just under two minutes and followed up with a pin at 4:58 against fourth-seeded James Fox of Harvard. Rands, who needs to finish among the top seven to punch is ticket to the NCAA Championship, will face top-seeded Brandon Palik of Drexel on Sunday morning. Palik was knocked off by Army’s Bryce Barnes (8-6) in the quarterfinals, who has twice lost to Rands in the last month.
“Mat (Miller) is really competing hard and looking strong,” added Antonelli. “He’s focused in on getting points for us and I think tomorrow will be a great battle for Mat. Colton (Rasche) had a disappointing first-round loss, but he did a great job of coming back and winning a tough overtime match. I’ve been really proud of Alex’s (Johnson) effort all year and today was no different. He is a tough customer out there and I know he will give everything he’s got tomorrow. Paul (Rands) came up short early, but he earned a heck of a win over the Harvard kid who is a really solid wrestler. I’m really looking forward to seeing how we finish up on Sunday.”
Meanwhile, the season came to an end for the following Navy wrestlers who bowed out of the competition on Saturday: 125-pound Brenden Campbell (New Castle, Ind., 141-pound Joe Locksmith (Kissimmee, Fla.), 157-pound Zach Johnson (Memphis, Tenn.), 165-pound Peyton Walsh (Glen Allen, Va.), 184-pound James Mannier (Troy, Ohio) and heavyweight Colynn Cook (Murrysville, Pa..
Defending EIWA Champion Cornell (92.0) stands atop the leader board with a 29.5-point advantage over Lehigh. Cornell is the only team that has all 10 of its wrestlers still in the competition, while Lehigh, who holds a half-point lead over third-place Rutgers, has six remaining in the competition, as does Rutgers. Navy, who is tied with Penn with 42.5 points, trails sixth place Army by 2.5 points. Army has five wrestlers active in the tournament and Penn has four, including three in the championship bracket.
The 110th EIWA Championships will continue on Saturday beginning at 10:00 am with the championship semifinals, the consolation semifinals and placement matches beginning at 10:00 am and the championship finals at 4:00 pm. Flowrestling will stream Sunday’s action, while TrackWrestling.com will provide live stats for the event.
### Go Navy ###