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Bernstein ’15 qualifies for NCAA Tournament with top-four finish

Four top-eight finishes at EIWA Championships mark end of growth year for wrestling program

This weekend, the wrestling team traveled to Pennsylvania to compete in the 111th Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships and found success, as four wrestlers finished in the top eight for their weight classes.

“As a program, you want to be improving every year, and we definitely improved over previous years,” said Ophir Bernstein ’15. “This is the highest amount of placers we’ve had since I’ve been at Brown, and that’s not including Justin (Staudenmayer ’17), who had a solid shot of winning the tournament before he got hurt.”

The two-day competition required wrestlers to win at least two bouts on the first day in order to continue on to the second day. Bernstein, Steven Galiardo ’17, Ricky McDonald ’15 and Billy Watterson ’15 each met this quota.

Several other Bears were able to win one bout on the first day, including Sebastien Levin ’15, Augustus Marker ’16, Zeke Salvo ’18 and Staudenmayer. Though he was seeded third coming into the competition, Staudenmayer was forced to withdraw during his second bout as a result of an injury.

“Justin is a guy on the team that everyone loves,” Bernstein said. “He’s a natural leader and one of the hardest workers on the team, so we were all extremely disappointed to see him get hurt.”

On the second day, Watterson entered the competition as the fifth seed and came in fifth place in the 125-pound weight class. He started the day strong with a 2-1 win but lost his second bout to Bucknell’s Paul Petrov, who was seeded third. In his final bout, Watterson shut out his opponent 6-0 to grab the fifth-place finish.

McDonald was seeded eighth in the 174-pound weight class, and similarly to Watterson, he finished in his seeded spot. The ranking marks McDonald’s second consecutive year placing at the EIWA Championships. He suffered a loss via fall against Sacred Heart’s Conan Schuster and then lost 5-1 in the seventh-place bout.

In the 149-pound weight class, Galiardo fell to Bucknell’s Victor Lopez by a close margin of 4-3. He was then forced to withdraw due to an injury, limiting him to an eighth-place finish in his weight class.

Seeded fourth, Bernstein started off the day with a pin against the eighth seed, Navy’s Mike Woulfe. Following this performance, Bernstein successfully earned a 13-0 win via major decision against Bucknell’s sixth-seeded Thomas Sleigh. Bernstein’s final bout of the day featured a 13-3 loss against the fourth seed, Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas.

With a fourth-place finish, Bernstein successfully qualified for the NCAA Championships for the fourth time. Last year, he placed eighth at the championships and earned All-American status.

“I feel very fortunate to be able to compete at the NCAA championships again this year,” Bernstein said. “It’s been an up-and-down year for me, but I just listened to our great coaching staff and kept working hard, and things started turning around for me.”

Bernstein will travel to St. Louis, Missouri to compete in the NCAA Championships March 19-21.

“I’m not complacent with just reaching nationals,” Bernstein said. “My goal is to be an All-American again this year, so I’m just going to push as hard as I can for the next two weeks so I can reach that goal.”


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