In early-season bouts, wrestling team medals in multiple events

Staudenmayer ’17 collects gold and silver medals, earns national ranking in 157-pound weight class

Contributing Writer
Friday, December 5, 2014

Last year, captain and All-American Ophir Bernstein ’15 fell just two wins short of setting Bruno’s all-time single-season record for wins — a mark he hopes to surpass in his final season on the mats.

The wrestling team kicked off its season at the East Stroudsburg Open Nov. 16, and continued its early season bouts at the Navy Classic Nov. 22. Between the two events, the Bears earned eight placeholders, showing there is a lot to look forward to in this year’s campaign despite the team’s near-bottom finish in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association standings last season.

“I think we are improving a lot,” said captain Ophir Bernstein ’15. “I can honestly say that this is the best Brown wrestling team that I’ve competed with since I’ve been here. It’s really exciting for us.”

The team’s efforts were exemplified by Justin Staudenmayer ’17, who took home the title for the 157-pound weight class at the Navy Classic and placed second in the same event at East Stroudsburg. With the two strong showings, Staudenmayer is now nationally ranked in his weight class.

“It’s great to see,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman. “Especially as an underclassman — a sophomore who is really stepping up as a leader on the team.”

Bernstein, an All-American, will also be a key player on this year’s squad, starting the season on a strong note by capturing fourth and third place in the 184-pound weight class at East Stroudsburg and Navy, respectively.

Bernstein entered the season fresh off a third-place finish at the World University Wrestling Championships this summer, where he competed for Israel. With that tournament marking his third year of competition at the international level, his sights are set on making the 2016 Olympic team.

“Luckily I had a good tournament,” Bernstein said of his latest tournament on the international circuit. “I went out there and actually lost the first match but came back and won two tough matches. At the end, I was fortunate enough to end up on the podium with a third-place medal.”

But before Bernstein makes a run at the Olympics, he has one last season with which he can cement his legacy as one of Brown’s all-time greats, and this time around, he will look to break the school’s single season record for victories, a mark of which he fell just two wins short last year.

Aside from those standouts, the team still had a strong showing. L.J. Remillard ’17, Ricky McDonald ’15 and Billy Watterson ’15 all recorded fifth or sixth place finishes at East Stroudsburg, and McDonald also placed fifth at the Navy Classic. Yet Beckerman seemed most impressed by the team’s first-years, three of whom fought their way into the quarterfinals at their first collegiate level competitions.

“They’re doing a great job,” said Beckerman of his rookies. “They’ve been working hard all preseason, and then it showed in the first two tournaments. I’m anxious to see how the season unfolds for a lot of them.”

The Bears are now looking ahead to the weekend, when they will compete at the Cliff Keen Invitational in Las Vegas, Nevada. The competition promises to be a stern early season test for Beckerman and the crew, with 12 of the nation’s top 25 teams making the trip out to Sin City.

“This is what we’ve been preparing for in the preseason and the first two tournaments,” Beckerman said. “It will really act as a gauge to see where we are at and what we need to work on to prepare for the NCAA tournament in March.”

In his second year as head coach, Beckerman knows that the team has a lot to learn from these early season contests, but he is adamant that the team shouldn’t dwell on any disappointing results at this point in the season. He hopes the team will instead remain focused on the ultimate goal of competing in the NCAA tournament. This message seemed to resonate with Bernstein, who offered a similar take on the squad’s mindset going forward.

“In the next couple of months, we will probably make some mistakes, but as long as we correct them and we’re ready for the tournament in March, we’ll be good,” Bernstein said. “That’s our focus and what we are really worried about.”


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