Wrestling picks up two wins in season’s first home meet

Bears beat Penn for second EIWA and first Ivy win before falling to Princeton

Sports Editor
Monday, February 10, 2014

Key wins from Augustus Marker ’16 and Ryder Cavey ’17 catapulted Bruno over Penn in a come-from-behind victory Saturday afternoon, but the Bears fell to Princeton Sunday morning. Marker and Cavey also tallied victories against Johnson and Wales Sunday.

The wrestling team grappled in front of a home crowd for the first time this season at the Pizzitola Center over the weekend. College Hill proved a favorable setting, as the Bears captured two wins and suffered one narrow loss. 

“We’ve been looking forward to our first home meet for a while,” said Ophir Bernstein ’15. “There were so many alumni, family and kids chanting — we really thrived on it.”

The season’s first home match ended in dramatic fashion with a come-from-behind win over Penn. The Bears jumped out to an early 6-0 lead with wins by Vincent Moita ’14 at 125 pounds and Anthony Finocchiaro ’16 at 133 pounds. But Penn answered with victories in the next four classes, grabbing a comfortable 13-6 lead. Bruno 174-pounder Ricky McDonald ’15 earned the squad three points with a 3-1 decision to trim the margin. But after Bruno’s top wrestler No. 9 Bernstein fell to No. 13 Lorenzo Thomas, the outlook seemed bleak for the Bears, as they trailed 16-9 with two classes left. At this point, Bruno needed two wins, including a pin or major decision, to crawl out of the hole.

Momentum came in the form of 197-pounder Augustus Marker ’16. The sophomore battled Penn’s Frank Mattiace late into the third period before sticking him with just 50 seconds left in the match. Marker’s pin narrowed the deficit to one point for heavyweight Ryder Cavey ’17, who capped the comeback with a 7-2 decision, vaulting the Bears over the Quakers 18-16 for their second duel win in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association.

Head Coach Todd Beckerman commended Marker’s grit in pinning Mattiace despite falling behind earlier in the bout and noted that his 197-pounder employed a new maneuver to force the pin.

“It’s a move he’s been working on for a while,” Beckerman said. “He saw a place, an opportunity, and he took it. Gus found a way to win.”

The Bears were unable to carry their success from Saturday’s dramatics into their Sunday morning matchup with Princeton, as the Tigers bested Bruno 21-16. A pin by Finocchiaro gave Bruno an early lead, but Princeton captured four consecutive weight classes to open a 18-6 edge. A McDonald win and Bernstein major decision cut the Princeton advantage to 18-13, but the Bears could not complete a comeback in the final two classes.

The defeat at the hands of an Ivy foe stings, especially given an unlucky break that may have cost the Bears six points. During the duel’s first match, Miota, a stalwart for the Bears at the 125-pound class, rammed heads with his Princeton competitor. Both players sustained injuries, but Miota’s was more serious and the senior was forced to forfeit the match, ceding six crucial points that would end up being the difference in the match for the Tigers.

Miota “has been so tough lately,” Beckerman said. “I would have liked to see the end of that match.”

In its last pairing of the weekend, Bruno triumphed 33-15 over Johnson and Wales University. The match went back and forth through the first six classes, with Bruno clinging to a 16-15 lead. The dynamic duo of McDonald and Bernstein propelled the squad with consecutive wins by major decisions. Marker and Cavey finished off the Wildcats with victories of their own, widening the margin to 33-15.

The Bears remain at home for the next two weekends, hosting Harvard, Boston University and Lehigh University. Bruno ranks near the bottom of the EIWA with a 2-5 conference record, but the homestand offers the grapplers a chance to climb the standings, as Harvard and BU also dwell in the cellar.

Bernstein and Beckerman expressed optimism about the team as the season enters its final month.

“I’m happy with this week. The guys fought hard,” Beckerman said.

“I think we’re headed in the right direction for March,” Bernstein said, adding that the goal of the season is to peak for the NCAA Tournament in Oklahoma City March 20-22.

“We still have our eyes on O.K.C.”