The men’s wrestling team took out Columbia and Hofstra University Saturday in two critical victories on their Senior Day.
The dual against Columbia came down to the wire, with the Bears needing a win from Tucker Ziegler ’19 (197 lbs) in the final bout. Ziegler pulled through to win his match 7-3, completing a 19-18 comeback victory for Bruno. Brown carried its momentum into the following dual against Hofstra, dominating the Pride in a 24-12 triumph.
Along with Ziegler, several other seniors earned crucial victories. Jon Viruet ’19 (165 lbs), Christian LaFragola ’19 (184 lbs) and Ian Butterbrodt ’19 (285 lbs) all went 2-0. Butterbrodt fought his way to a key major decision against Columbia (8-5, 4-5 EIWA), while LaFragola took home an overtime victory against the Lions. Viruet locked up a cradle against Hofstra (6-13, 2-7) to get a first period pin, which was the fastest win of the day for Brown (6-6, 4-5).
Head Coach Todd Beckerman noted that the two wins had extra significance — coinciding with Brown’s Senior Day. “We have a lot of alums that came back for this alumni and senior weekend, so to get a win in front of them is very special,” he said.
Butterbrodt kicked off the match against Columbia with a commanding 10-0 win. Trey Keeley ’20 (125 lbs) kept the Bears rolling with an 8-6 win over Columbia’s Joe Manchio. Charlie Faber ’21 (133 lbs) gave up a pin in the next match despite earning the first takedown, but Theo Powers ’20 (141 lbs) got Bruno back on track with a 9-3 victory. Columbia chipped away at their deficit with a win at 149 pounds and took a 12-10 lead after a win at 157 pounds.
Viruet’s 6-1 victory allowed Brown to briefly take back the advantage, but a dramatic pin with three seconds left in the first period by Columbia’s Max Elling left Brown needing wins from both LaFragola and Ziegler to take the dual. The seniors stepped up to the task, as LaFragola grinded out a 3-1 overtime win over Brian Bonino, and Ziegler earned a 7-3 decision over Sam Wustefeld, giving the Bears a hard-fought 19-18 team victory over the Lions.
“It was cool to see it get finished off by (Ziegler), that was a good way to end it,” Butterbrodt said. “It’s nine (wins) in row for me now, so I’m just enjoying myself and loving wrestling.”
Against Hofstra, Butterbrodt again took care of business, knocking off Omar Haddad 2-0. The largest upset of either dual came at 125 pounds, as Trey Keeley won a back-and-forth battle over the Pride’s Dylan Ryder, who is ranked 27th in the nation. Keeley and Ryder traded takedowns and escapes in the first period, which ended in a 3-3 tie. Ryder took control on a single leg takedown in the second to give him a 6-3 lead, but Keeley fought back to a 6-5 deficit after two escapes. Keeley needed a late score to win the match, and he came up clutch with a takedown on a danger call and a late ride out to secure the 7-6 win.
“It was my second ranked win of the year. I’m trying to get in those rankings, and have a bullseye on my back,” Keeley said. “Beating guys like that is good (to get) confidence as we head to March.”
Powers picked up a win by forfeit, and Christian LaBrie ’19 (157 lbs) won via a 6-1 decision as the Bears pulled away from the Pride. Viruet’s pin and a win by LaFragola helped Bruno cruise to the 24-12 win.
Brown will look to end their dual season on a high note as they take on two more Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association foes next week in their last two meets. The Bears will travel to Cambridge to take on Harvard Thursday, then will return home for their final appearance in the Pizzitola Sports Center against Sacred Heart University Saturday.