The wrestling team notched its first victory of the year with a 19-14 triumph over Binghamton University Saturday before falling 36-4 to No. 22 Cornell later that day. With only two weight classes remaining in the dual against Binghamton and the outcome still in doubt, 197 lb wrestler Nino Bastianelli ’21 stormed back from a 6-0 deficit to win his match 8-6 and seal the victory for Bruno. Bastianelli also recorded a major decision against Cornell, becoming the only Brown wrestler to go 2-0 on the day.
“We’ve been right there all year,” said Trey Keeley ’20. “Finally breaking through and finding a way to win was huge for us going forward as we build confidence going into (the postseason).”
After suffering three losses by four points or fewer in the previous two weeks, the Bears (1-5, 1-4 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) looked to break through against their conference rivals Binghamton (3-8, 2-6 EIWA). Keeley (125 lbs) started off strong, winning multiple back-and-forth scrambles to take an 8-4 decision. Then, Charlie Faber ’21 (133 lbs) used several powerful double-leg takedowns to record a 15-6 major decision and stretch the team lead to 7-0. Binghamton bounced back with a win at 141 lbs, but Ricky Cabanillas ’23 (149 lbs) edged his opponent 6-4 to return the momentum to the Bears. A dominant 4-0 win by Jack Bokina ’22 (157 lbs) put Bruno up 13-3 halfway through the dual.
The Bearcats stayed in contention for the team win with a 3-0 victory at 165 lbs. But Cade Wilson ’22 (174 lbs) won an overtime thriller to extend Brown’s lead again. Wilson gave up the first takedown of the match, but two nearfall points helped him send the match to sudden death in a 4-4 tie. Wilson took a shot off the whistle to begin overtime to earn the winning takedown. The Bearcats’ Lou DePrez, who is currently ranked No. 5 nationally at 184 lbs, took a 16-2 major decision, cutting Bruno’s lead to 16-10 and setting up a crucial 197 lb bout.
Early in the first period of his match, Bastianelli was tossed to his back and narrowly avoided being pinned. But the Brown wrestler recovered and earned a late reversal to enter the second period down 6-2. Bastianelli showed his prowess from the top position by controlling his opponent for the entirety of the second period. He then earned an escape and takedown in the third to reduce his deficit to just one. A two-point tilt gave him the lead, and a bonus point for riding time gave the junior an 8-6 victory and an insurmountable 19-10 edge for Brown.
“We knew we needed that match,” Bastianelli said. “Obviously going down 6-0 at the rip was not ideal, but I just kept trying to score the next point and keep working.”
Binghamton won a major decision at heavyweight, but it was too little, too late for the Bearcats, who fell 19-14.
“Any time you get a win in this conference, it’s always a good win and something we can build off of,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman.
After their win over Binghamton, Bruno was tasked with taking on perennial wrestling powerhouse No. 22 Cornell. Although the Brown wrestlers kept many of the individual bouts close, they dropped nine of the ten matchups. Keeley fell 8-3 to the Big Red’s Dominic LaJoie, and Charlie Faber faced Chas Tucker, who is ranked No. 4 nationally at 133 lbs. Faber entered the third period down just 3-2 to his highly ranked foe, but Tucker took control late and gained another 8-3 win for Cornell. After a major decision loss at 141 lbs, Brown lost a nail-biter at 149 lbs. Cabanillas recovered from an early 2-0 deficit to tie the match in the third period, but gave up the winning takedown at the end of the bout and went on to fall 5-4. Three more consecutive losses and a forfeit at 184 lbs put Bruno down 30-0 with two matches left.
Bastianelli once again excelled in his 197 lb bout, capturing an 11-0 major decision victory. Cornell’s normal 197 lb starter, 2018 All-American Ben Darmstadt, who is ranked No. 11 nationally at 197 lbs, was out of the lineup, and Bastianelli capitalized by dominating the Big Red’s backup. A pin by Cornell’s Brendan Furman at heavyweight put the finishing touches on a 36-4 final score.
“I don’t think the score reflected the final result with how hard we fought out there,” Beckerman said. “We have a young team this year … as they continue to get in the lineup and get matches and compete, I think we’ll get to (Cornell’s) level.”
Bruno will look to continue its momentum from its win over Binghamton in two EIWA battles Saturday against Ivy league rivals Penn and Princeton.