The No. 4 ranked Ithaca College wrestling team competed at the National Wrestling Coaches Association National Duals, where it finished in third place against the best-ranked schools in the nation. This was an improvement over the team’s fourth place finish last season.
The South Hill grapplers began the first day of competition against No. 21 Centenary University. Even after almost a month off from action, the Bombers were razor sharp, besting the Cyclones in 9 of 10 individual bouts on the way to an easy 34–4 victory.
Sophomore 133–pounder Tito Colom’s match against Cyclones’ junior Dino Cancellieri went into extras. Colom won in the first sudden-victory period by a score of 4–2. Sophomore Ben Brisman, wrestling in the 141-pound division, defeated No. 6 ranked junior Maxwell Nauta 8–7 after needing an extra period. Senior Nick Velez’s bout also went into extras in the 165-pound division, with Velez taking a 4–3 victory in the second tiebreaker period.
The Blue and Gold finished the first day of action with a quarterfinal rematch from last season against No. 6 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Bombers defeated the Warhawks 31–10, advancing the team to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.
Starting in a 10–0 hole as a team, sophomore Sammy Schneider got the ball rolling with a 14–8 decision over Warhawks’ sophomore Wilder Wichman. After a string of wins by other wrestlers, senior Jaison White secured an 8–6 decision over junior Nicholas Bonomo, a win which gave the Bombers a lead they would keep for the rest of the match.
The second day of the National Duals gave the Bombers their toughest test of this year’s campaign as they took on No. 1 ranked Wartburg College. This time, the competition walked away with the win as Wartburg bested the Blue and Gold in the semifinal round 32–15.
The Bombers did get wins against the Knights from Brisman and junior Jake Ashcraft, while junior Ferdinand Mase blew out the 125-pound bout 6–0. However, the college’s wrestlers could not pull away in any other category, including the heavyweight division, where formidable grappler Jake O’Brien lost a 2–1 decision. Schneider was in place to upset unanimous No.1 ranked junior Cross Cannone but was forced to retire with an injury.
The Wartburg loss pitted the Bombers against No. 2 ranked Johnson & Wales in a battle for third place. The Blue and Gold was chasing the Wildcats in the rankings all season, but this year’s National Duals saw the Bombers prevail in a 22–11 victory.
After trailing 8–6, the Blue and Gold went on a four–bout win streak to seal the deal. Junior Austin Whitney earned a 7–5 decision that regained the lead. White and Velez won their matches with scores of 6–2 and 10–2, respectively, while Ashcraft defeated junior Khamri Thomas in a 5–4 decision. O’Brien also rebounded to take the heavyweight division with a 3–0 victory that capped off the action.
With National Duals finished, the Bombers will have two weeks to rest. The team will return to the mats to defend its four-year title run in the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championship. That event will be held at 11 a.m. Jan. 20 in Cortland, New York.