The wrestling team (4-9, 3-7 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) fell to Harvard (4-5, 4-5 EIWA) 22-12 Feb. 17 at home before bouncing back to defeat Sacred Heart University (1-9, 0-7 EIWA) 35-11 on Senior Day Feb. 20 at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Brown started strong against Harvard with wins by Nicky Cabanillas ’23 (133 lbs) and Timothy Levine ’25 (141 lbs), but Harvard won four straight matches at the middleweights to ensure a Crimson team victory. The Bears crushed Sacred Heart three days later, earning four pins and a technical fall to conclude their regular season in winning fashion.
Harvard took an early 3-0 lead over Brown with a victory in the 125-lb weight class, as the Crimson’s Beau Bayless beat Reese Fry ’22 5-0 in an intense battle. Cabanillas fully controlled his bout at 133 lbs, falling just short of a major decision in an 11-5 win. The 141-lb match was scoreless after the first period, but Levine tossed his Crimson opponent to his back to blow the match open and nearly pick up the fall. Although Levine was stuck underneath his opponent for most of the third period, his throw was enough to take a 7-2 decision and give Brown a 6-3 lead in the team score.
The Crimson’s middleweight run started at 149 lbs. Lukus Stricker beat Ricky Cabanillas ’23 in a match that came down to the final seconds. Stricker earned a first period takedown and appeared to be cruising to a win with a 3-0 third period lead. But Stricker was called for stalling when he stopped to tie his shoe mid-match, giving a penalty point to Ricky Cabanillas. Needing just one takedown to send the match to overtime, Ricky Cabanillas launched a flurry of attacks, but none were successful and he lost 3-1.
Harvard’s streak continued with a 10-4 decision at 157 lbs and a 16-5 major decision at 165 lbs. In a wild match at 184 lbs, Drew Clearie ’25 was in the same position as Ricky Cabanillas, needing a takedown in the waning seconds of his bout to send it to overtime. But Harvard’s Josh Kim spun around a desperation shot by Clearie to secure an 11-7 decision.
Wins by James Araneo ’25 (184 lbs) and Cade Wilson ’22 (197 lbs) cut Brown’s team deficit to 16-12, giving the Bears a shot at the team win going into the final individual match at heavyweight. But a pin by Harvard’s Jeffrey Crooks on Lear Quinton ’24 (285 lbs) dashed Brown’s hopes of winning its final Ivy League matchup of the season.
Brown rebounded in dramatic fashion in Sunday’s Senior Day matchup against Sacred Heart, which was part of the annual Rumble and Tumble Meet in which the wrestling team competes alongside the gymnastics team in the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Levine said that he enjoyed the unique atmosphere of the Rumble and Tumble Meet. “The pressure was off a little because the focus was kind of split between the two” sports, he said. “It was nice to get that atmosphere, the music was fun and I like having that larger crowd.”
In the first bout of the Sacred Heart match, Fry used a crossface to flip his opponent to his back, securing a pin and a 6-0 lead for the Bears. The Pioneers’ Anthony Petrillo used a quick go-behind for a third period takedown and won 3-2 over Nicky Cabanillas, but Levine got the Bears back on track with a resounding 20-2 technical fall.
“Being relaxed (and) keeping my composure mentally has been great for me,” Levine said of his 2-0 weekend.
Ricky Cabanillas extended Bruno’s advantage to 14-3 with an 8-2 individual victory, but Sacred Heart tightened the team score to 14-11 with two consecutive major decisions.
Then, it was all Brown in the upper weights. Clearie quickly took down his Pioneer opponent and rolled him to his back for a first-period fall. Next, Araneo locked horns with Sacred Heart’s Robert Hetherman in a high-scoring, back-and-forth match. In the second period with the score tied 7-7, Araneo emerged with a cradle near the edge of the mat, pinning Hetherman and mathematically sealing the team victory for the Bears. A 7-3 decision win by Wilson and another pin via cradle from Quinton capped off a 35-11 blowout win for Bruno.
“There’s no better feeling,” Araneo said of the team victory. “It’s really nice to get a win in front of the home crowd, especially for our seniors (in) their last time in our gym.”
Head Coach Todd Beckerman was particularly excited about the Bears’ five bonus point wins against Sacred Heart, coming from the four pins and Levine’s technical fall. “We’ve been working on bonus points — looking for the pin, looking for the fall — and those guys went out and got after it, especially the upper weights,” he said.
The Bears will begin their postseason at the EIWA Championships March 5 and 6, which will be hosted by Cornell. There, Brown will look to post its first NCAA Tournament qualifier since 2019. “It’s really good for our conference tournament to have the confidence that we do right now, coming off a big win,” Araneo said.