Wrestling downed in final two regular-season meets

Bears lose to Lehigh in their last home meet of the season and are beaten handily by Columbia on the road

Sports Editor
Monday, February 24, 2014

The wrestling team suffered a weekend sweep at the hands of No. 20 Lehigh and Columbia. The 26-17 loss to the Mountain Hawks came on Senior Day at the Pizzitola Center before the Bears lost the following day to the Lions 33-9 in New York.

“The emotions were definitely high — wrestling your last match at the Pizzitola,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman after nine seniors competed in their final home duel.

Bruno’s Senior Day clash resembled many of its matches this season, as big wins by a few wrestlers were offset by struggles in the lighter weight classes. The day started off with the 157-pound bout, moving through the six heavier classes and then back to the lightest four.

In their last home performances of their careers, the 157-pounder Cortlandt Choate ’14 and 165-pounder Philip Marano ’14 each won close decisions, lifting the squad to an early 6-0 lead. Choate blasted his Lehigh counterpart early in the match, nearly pinning him and holding a comfortable 5-1 lead through two periods. But after Choate was called for stalling, the final period turned into a dramatic frenzy until the buzzer finalized a 6-4 win for the Bruno senior. Not to be outdone, Marano followed his classmate with a similarly intense 5-4 win over Lehigh’s Ben Haas. A back-and-forth battle went deep into the third period with the grapplers tied 4-4. Haas needed only an escape to take the match, but Marano, knowing he held the tiebreaker in riding time, hung to Haas, preventing his escape until time expired.

“Cortlandt Choate stepped up big,” Beckerman said, adding that he was happy the match kicked off with Choate’s performance. Marano’s victory was “another big win,” Beckerman said. “On Senior Night, they went out the right way.”

After Ricky McDonald ’15 lost in yet another tightly contested match, Ophir Bernstein ’15 broke the streak with a 19-2 technical fall over Lehigh wrestler Zach Diekel. Bernstein manhandled his competitor as he has done to opponents so often this season. The win gave the Bears an 11-3 lead as well as the hope that they could knock off their nationally ranked opponent.

But momentum swung in a big way through the next five classes. Lehigh rebounded from the early deficit with two pins and two major decisions in the next five classes. By the final class of the day, Lehigh had clinched the duel with a 26-11 advantage.

Steven Galiardo ’17, at 149 pounds, concluded the bout for Brown and continued to impress in his first season as a Bear. Galiardo led the whole match until his opponent bowed out due to an injury sustained on a takedown.

“Coming in as a first-year, he’s fun to watch,” Beckerman said of Galiardo. “He’s taking shots and getting points. I’m excited to see how he does this postseason.”

The Bears had their work cut out for them the following day, needing to rebound from the emotional match to travel to Columbia. The Lions jumped all over Bruno pushing the score to 18-3 after the first half of the match, riding the lead to a commanding 33-9 victory.

The dependable Galiardo and Bernstein notched victories, and Ryder Cavey ’17 joined the pair in the win column, not surrendering a point in his 5-0 win at the heavyweight class. But the three decisions could not contend with two falls, one injury forfeit and three major decisions for Columbia.

The winless weekend drops Bruno to 3-11 in the conference, and with the playoffs just around the corner, Beckerman said the squad is calling it a “whole new season.”

“This has all been just training to prepare for the EIWA conference,” Beckerman said. “Everybody’s got a clean slate to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament.”