The wrestling team was led by Ricky Cabanillas ’23 at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships, who placed seventh at 149 lbs. Cabanillas became Brown’s lone placer after losing his first match in the double elimination tournament but winning three times in the consolation rounds. Bruno combined for a 10-20 record at the championships, failing to send an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament after sending four wrestlers there last year. Bryce Rogers ’22 was the Bears’ second best performer, putting up a 2-2 record in the 184 lb bracket.
Brown started off strong in the preliminary round, as Rogers recorded a 5-2 decision over Penn’s John Stout. But the Bears suffered heartbreak in their next match, as Thomas Mukai ’23 (285 lbs) fell 2-1 in double overtime to Long Island University’s Maguire Horl.
Twelfth-seeded Charlie Faber ’21 (133 lbs) nearly pulled off an upset in the round of 16 against Bucknell University’s 5th-seeded Darren Miller. Faber launched Miller to his back with a headlock in the opening seconds of the match, but was unable to finish off his opponent with a pin and settled for an early 6-0 lead. Miller chipped away at Faber’s lead throughout the match, eventually sending it to overtime. Like Mukai, Faber dropped a double overtime nailbiter, in this case by a score of 9-8.
Also in the round of 16, Cabanillas lost 6-3 to Lucas Revano of Penn, and Jimmy Pawelski ’20 (141 lbs) dropped a tight 4-1 bout to Ryan Pomrinca of Lehigh University. Ninth-seeded Jack Bokina ’22 (157 lbs) was the lone Bruno wrestler to advance to the quarterfinals, pulling off a slight upset over 8th-seeded Cole Aaron of Franklin & Marshall University by a 7-2 score.
But Bokina would be pinned by 1st-seeded Quincy Monday of Princeton in his next match, dropping into the consolation bracket like his teammates.
Although Mukai, Kiran Srikanth ’23 (165 lbs) and Cade Wilson ’22 (174 lbs) were eliminated from the tournament in the consolation preliminaries, the Bears rebounded in the consolation first round, going 6-0 as a team. Trey Keeley ’20 (125 lbs) picked up a dominant 10-0 major decision and Faber earned a major decision as well, winning 10-2. Then, Pawelski edged Drexel University’s Tyler Williams 7-5 to give Bruno a 3-0 start to the round.
Cabanillas advanced with a tight 6-5 decision over Matt Swanson of Binghamton University. The match finished in a 5-5 tie, but due to Cabanillas’ performance from the top position he earned a riding time point to take the victory. Rogers and Nino Bastianelli ’21 (197 lbs) picked up 6-1 and 5-0 wins, respectively. With the undefeated consolation round and Bokina dropping down from the quarterfinals, Brown sent seven wrestlers to the “blood round,” where winners are guaranteed a top eight placement and losers are eliminated.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they were not as successful in the blood round, going 1-6 overall. Keeley and Pawelski both took losses that ended each of the seniors’ careers.
“I was letting it loose, letting it all fly for my last competition,” Keeley said. “I walked off the mat for the last time and I was upset with the results — one round away from placing — but it really hit me right when I walked off the mat just how grateful I was for the whole experience.”
Faber lost his second nailbiter of the tournament in a 4-1 defeat to Harvard’s Michael Jaffe. Down 3-1, Faber entered a wild scramble with Jaffe and appeared to hold the Crimson wrestler on his back for three seconds, earning a danger call takedown to tie the score at 3-3. But Harvard challenged the call and the ruling was reversed to no takedown, allowing Jaffe to hold on for the victory. Rogers and Bastianelli were also bounced from the bracket in the blood round.
Cabanillas, the lone Brown wrestler to advance, picked up another tight win to place in the top eight. He upset 6th-seeded Matt Kolonia of Bucknell 9-5 to move on. Although Kolonia earned the first takedown of the match, Cabanillas would control the bout from that point onwards.
“I know that I had worked very hard to get this far, so I wrestled like I had nothing to lose,” Cabanillas said of his run through the consolation bracket.
Cabanillas fell to the United States Military Academy’s PJ Ogunsanya in the next consolation round, landing him in the seventh place match. The 149 lb wrestler was set for a rematch with Revano, but Revano forfeited the match and Cabanillas clinched seventh place.
Cabanillas said he was happy with the weekend’s results, but hopes to parlay them into greater achievements. “My ultimate goal is to qualify for the (NCAA) Tournament, and my dream is to become an All-American. I believe that if I keep grinding with my teammates and coaches, it’s possible,” he said.
Bruno sent just two seniors to the EIWA Tournament, Keeley and Pawelski, and will return five of the seven wrestlers that advanced to the blood round. Head Coach Todd Beckerman said he is looking forward to seeing the potential of his young team come to fruition. “With that experience on top of the incoming recruiting class and the other guys coming back from taking a year off, we’re looking forward to next season,” he said. “Our goals (for next year) are higher than they were this year.”