Consecutive losses to Boston foes pin down wrestling

Defeats by BU, Harvard at home leave Bruno at 17th place in 18-team EIWA league

Sports Editor
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Brown wrestling has been struggling on the mat this season, falling to second-to-last place in the EIWA after forfeits in the 125-pound weight class contributed to losses to Boston University and Harvard this weekend.

The wrestling team continued its three-week homestand Saturday, hosting conference opponents Harvard and Boston University. But the home mat did not provide the Bears much of an advantage, as Harvard and BU secured sound victories, winning 30-10 and 23-15, respectively.

The low weight classes doomed the Bears in both matches, particularly the lightest weight, 125 pounds, where Bruno twice ceded six points via forfeits. Vincent Moita ’14 has competed well at 125 pounds this year but suffered a head injury last weekend that has kept him out of three straight meets.

At the 133- and 141-pound weight classes, Bruno grapplers Anthony Finocchiaro ’16 and Zachary Tanenbaum ’15 failed to notch any team points for the Bears. After three weight classes, Harvard held a commanding 14-0 lead while BU opened up a similar 13-0 advantage.

The lone bright spot for the Bears in the first five classes was 149-pounder Steven Galiardo ’17. The first-year has made an immediate impact in his short time on College Hill. Galiardo trounced Harvard counterpart Nicholas Stager 14-5 for the major decision, following up with a 9-6 win over BU’s Nick Tourville.

“It’s good to see our (first-years) competing the way they are,” said Ricky McDonald ’15. “Steven hit some great moves and got us some big points this weekend.”

Expectedly, Bruno’s dynamic one-two punch of Ricky McDonald ’15 and Ophir Bernstein ’15 dominated competitors in the 174- and 184-pound classes, respectively. The co-captains combined to garner 15 of the Bears’ 25 team points on the day.

McDonald attributed the duo’s success to wrestling each other in practice and to help from Head Assistant Coach Joe LeBlanc.

“Ophir and I train a lot together, and that helps us,” McDonald said. “Also, Coach LeBlanc has been great, wrestling with us pretty much every day in practice. He’s definitely been a factor in improving our records.”

Against BU, McDonald’s win and Bernstein’s pin were enough to narrow the margin to 19-12 with two classes remaining. The seven-point margin heading into the 195-pound match was exactly the deficit Bruno overcame in a dramatic win over Penn last weekend. But there was no such magic this time around. Augustus Marker ’16 fell to BU’s Alex Najjar to seal Brown’s fate. Ryder Cavey ’17 notched a 6-2 win in the heavyweight class, making him the only Bear to win a match on the day besides Galiardo, McDonald and Bernstein.

Though BU’s eight-point victory seems comfortable, the Bears might have won the bout if Moita had been able to wrestle in the opening match.

The sweep drops Bruno to a 2-8 record in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association, ranking it 17th in the 18-team league. The Crimson and the Terriers stand slightly ahead of the Bears — Harvard at 13th and BU at 16th. Bruno has a chance to pick up a big win Saturday when Lehigh, ranked sixth in the conference, comes to the Pizzitola Center. Bruno then hits the road Sunday to visit Columbia, ranked 12th in the EIWA.

“We’ve been having a lot of tough practices, so we’ll be prepared,” McDonald said of next weekend’s conference bouts. “Hopefully that shows.”