After a short trip up Route 13 to Cortland, the nationally-ranked Ithaca College wrestling team claimed the program’s fifth consecutive Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference title on Jan. 20.
With the win, the team improved to 7–2 on the season and has now won six of its last seven matches.
The Blue and Gold posted 193.5 points as team, finishing first out of six teams from New York, which included SUNY Brockport, ranked in the top-25 in the National Collegiate Wrestling rankings.
In addition, the day saw four Bombers claim titles in their respective weight-classes.
Sophomore Ben Brisman, who entered the championship meet ranked fourth in the country, set the tone early for the South Hill squad winning all four of his matches at 141- lbs, including an intense 7–6 victory by decision in the final over Brockport’s Nate Walker.
Junior Austin Whitney followed up Brisman’s title run with one of his own, winning his 3 matches at 157- lbs. Whitney topped off his afternoon with a convincing 14–3 major decision win in the final bout over RIT’s Kaidon Winters, ranked eighth in the country in his weight-class.
Senior Nick Velez got in on the action as well, capturing his third straight ECWC at 165-lbs with three consecutive wins, culminating in a tough 3–2 decision over SUNY Oswego’s Alex Herringshaw.
Finally, junior Jake Ashcraft won at 184-lbs with two falls in two matches after receiving a bye to the semifinal round. Last year’s third place finisher captured his title with a 45 second pin of Brockport’s Thaddus Jeffries in the final.
Senior Jaison White and junior Dalton Elias almost added two more personal titles to the Bomber haul, but both fell just short in their respective finals.
Although he did not compete due to injury, junior Jake O’Brien, ranked fifth in the 285-lbs class, said that the team’s win yesterday enhanced the trust they have in each other to step up in big moments.
“We didn’t have our full lineup in and guys that needed to step up stepped up,” said O’Brien. “That just shows the depth that we have and makes us more confident that anyone we send out will get the job done.”
The Bombers were also without nationally-ranked sophomore Sam Schneider, who also sat because of an injury.
Despite another ECWC championship on its way to the South Hill, O’Brien said the matches were valuable in that each athlete knows what expected of them with postseason looming large.
“Each guy got feedback for what they need to improve to peak at regionals and nationals,” said O’Brien. “We just need to continue what we’re doing and the results will come.”
The Bombers are back in action on Jan. 26 and 27 when they host Nassau Community College and Delaware Valley University back-to-back days.