FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The No. 4 Ithaca College wrestling team made its return to the mat at War Memorial Coliseum on Friday looking to continue to assert itself among the top programs in the country, as the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) National Duals entered its final day of competition. The Bombers posted their best ever finish at the event, coming in third place after splitting a pair of duals on the day against the two top-ranked programs coming into action this weekend.
The fourth-ranked Bombers began the day with their toughest test to-date when it faced No. 1 Wartburg in the Semifinal Round. The Bombers hung tough against the top-ranked Knights throughout the match; however, a few breaks proved to be the difference in a 32-15 defeat, Ithaca's first against NCAA Division III competition this season. IC squared off a familiar rival in the Third-Place Match, as No. 2 Johnson & Wales (R.I.) fell in a hard-fought matchup against the eventual National Duals Champion in No. 3 Augsburg. The Bombers turned in a fantastic effort in winning 7-of-10 bouts to power to a 22-11 victory.
Ithaca's two-day performance certainly establishes the program amongst the contenders, as several wrestlers turned in excellent efforts against national opposition. The momentum gained for the team's historic performance certainly figures to buoy the program over the stretch run of its regular season schedule.
#1 Wartburg 32 - #4 Ithaca 15
125 LB |Ferdinand Mase (ITHACA) def. Connor Cleveland (WARTBURG) | DEC: 6-0
133 LB | Brock Rathbun (WARTBURG) def. Tito Colom (ITHACA) | TF: 18-2
141 LB | Ben Brisman (ITHACA) def. Martine Sandoval (WARTBURG) | FALL: 4:13
149 LB | No. 1/1 Cross Cannone (WARTBURG) def. No. 4/4 Sammy Schneider (ITHACA) | INJ: 4:45
157 LB | No. 1/1 Logan Thomsen (WARTBURG) def. No. 10 Austin Whitney (ITHACA) | MD: 12-3
165 LB | Mike Ross (WARTBURG) def. No. 2/2 Nick Velez (ITHACA) | DEC: 6-2
174 LB | No. 1/1 Eric DeVos (WARTBURG) def. Jaison White (ITHACA) | FALL: 1:14
184 LB | No. 4/5 Jake Ashcraft (ITHACA) def. No. 3/3 Tyler Lutes (WARTBURG) | FALL: 7:23
197 LB | No. 2/2 Kyle Fank (WARTBURG) def. Dalton Elias (ITHACA) | TF: 17-0
285 LB | No. 2/1 Lance Evans (WARTBURG) def. No. 5/3 Jake O'Brien (ITHACA) | DEC: 2-1
Ithaca got off to a dream start against the nation's top ranked program in this morning's opening match against Wartburg. IC scored victories at 125-pounds and 141-pounds, crucial victories considering the Knights' loaded bottom half of the lineup.
Mase got Ithaca off and running with a 6-0 decision over Connor Cleveland. Although Wartburg snatched away the early lead when Brock Rathbun scored an 18-2 technical fall over IC's Tito Colom, Brisman ensured that the Bombers would have the lead heading into the pivotal middle-weight bouts. Brisman raced out to a big double-digit point lead midway through the second period, before taking Martine Sandoval to his back for six team points at 4:13. IC jumped back ahead 9-5.
The first of three Top-5 ranked-on-ranked battles in the match came at 149-pounds, as Ithaca's Sammy Schneider (4thNWCA | 4th d3wrestle.com) faced the nation's unanimous 149-pounder in Cross Cannone (1st NWCA | 1std3wrestle.com). Schneider was well positioned to score the mild upset, scoring a pair of takedowns and looking the aggressor in the bout. The sophomore led 5-4 late in the second period; however, in a tough break Schneider was forced from the bout with an injury, a nine-point swing that proved pivotal in shifting the momentum.
Transfer Austin Whitney (10th d3wrestle.com) faced another unanimous top-ranked grappler in Logan Thomsen (1stNWCA | 1st d3wrestle.com) in the 157-pound bout. Although Thomsen took control following an evenly wrestled first period, Whitney seemed poised not to concede bonus points, but a late takedown allowed Thomsen to lock-in four team points with a 12-3 major decision.
Needing a momentum stopper, IC turned to nationally-ranked Nick Velez (2nd NWCA | 2nd d3wrestle.com) to keep the Bombers in the match. Ithaca looked to have caught a break when Wartburg turned to reserve 165-pounder Mike Ross instead of the higher-ranked Kama Lee Loy. Velez scored a first-period takedown and held a 2-1 advantage late into the third period; however, Ross was able to turn Velez for four swipes just under the final horn to steal a 6-2 decision and push the Knights further ahead.
After senior Jaison White was pinned in 1:14 by Wartburg's third unanimous top-ranked wrestler in 174-pounder Eric DeVos (1st NWCA | 1st d3wrestle.com), IC was pushed to the brink trailing 24-9.
Despite the uphill climb, junior Jake Ashcraft continued his dominant form to pull the Bombers back into the match. In a Top-5 ranked-on-ranked battle against Tyler Lutes (3rd NWCA | 3rd d3wrestle.com), Ashcraft (4th NWCA | 5thd3wrestle.com) scored his third pin of tournament 23 seconds into the first extra-time period to secure six much-need team points.
Unfortunately, the deficit proved too much to overcome. Nationally-ranked Kyle Fank (2nd NWCA | 2ndd3wrestle.com) sealed the match for Wartburg at 197-pounds, scoring a 17-0 technical fall over Ithaca's Dalton Elias. The Knights tacked on three additional team points in the third and final Top-5 ranked-on-ranked contest of the match, as Lance Evans (2nd NWCA | 1st d3wrestle.com) was able to best junior Jake O'Brien (5th NWCA | 3rdd3wrestle.com) with a riding time point in a 2-1 decision that did not feature a takedown.
The loss pushed Ithaca into a matchup against No. 2 Johnson & Wales (R.I.) in the Third-Place Match for the second consecutive year.
#4 Ithaca 22 - #2 Johnson & Wales 11
125 LB | Ferdinand Mase (ITHACA) def. Stephen Nadera (JWU) | DEC: 3-0
133 LB | No. 2/2 Jay Albis (JWU) def. Tito Colom (ITHACA) | DEC: 7-0
141 LB | Ben Brisman (ITHACA) def. Joao Vicente (JWU) | DEC: 8-4
149 LB | No. 4/5 (141) Joe Ferinde (JWU) def. Joe Rorick (ITHACA) | TF: 18-2
157 LB | No. 10 Austin Whitney (ITHACA) def. Timothy Higginson (JWU) | DEC: 7-5
165 LB | No. 2/2 Nick Velez (ITHACA) def. Seon Bowker (JWU) | MD: 10-2
174 LB | Jaison White (ITHACA) def. Adrian Gonzalez (JWU) | DEC: 6-2
184 LB | No. 4/5 Jake Ashcraft (ITHACA) def. No. 5/6 Khamri Thomas (JWU) | DEC: 5-4
197 LB | No. 6/7 Michael DiNardo (JWU) def. Dymir Davis-Carruth (ITHACA) | DEC: 6-4
285 LB | No. 5/3 Jake O'Brien (ITHACA) def. No. 10 Jonah Aurelio (JWU) | DEC: 3-0
Still with a chance to make history, the Bombers came out motivated against a Johnson & Wales squad that IC has seen plenty often at invitational tournaments throughout the early part of this season. Once again, Ithaca used a fast start with victories by Mase and Brisman to take an early advantage in the match.
Mase finished his National Duals with a 3-1 mark, delivering a 3-0 decision over Stephen Nadera at 125-pounds. Colom did well to limit the damage against nationally-ranked Jay Albis (2nd NWCA | 2nd d3wrestle.com) at 133-pounds, not conceding any bonus points in a 7-0 decision. Brisman pushed Ithaca back into the lead with an 8-4 decision over Joao Vicente at 141-pounds.
Filling in for the injured Schneider at 149-pounds, junior Joe Rorick wrestled up a weight-class against nationally-ranked Johnson & Wales' opponent Joe Ferinde (4th NWCA | 5th d3wrestle.com) who was also wrestling one weight-class higher than his usual 141-pound slot. Rorick held Ferinde off as best he could, but eventually conceded the 18-2 technical fall midway through the third period.
Once again, Ithaca found itself trailing, 8-6, however, a four-bout win streak ensured that the result would not resemble last year's 28-12 defeat at the hands of the Wildcats.
Whitney (10th d3wrestle.com) got things started at 157-pounds. He scored a critical third-period takedown to seal a 7-5 decision to help IC retake the lead at 9-8. Velez (2nd NWCA | 2nd d3wrestle.com) had a nice bounce-back effort, scoring a bonus point for the squad with a 10-2 major decision over Seon Bowker. White also delivered a clutch effort, connecting on two shots in the second period and one additional takedown in the third to lock up a 6-2 decision over Adrian Gonzalez.
The Bombers turned to their Tournament MVP to effectively seal the match in Ashcraft (4th NWCA | 5thd3wrestle.com) at 184-pounds. In a ranked-on-ranked battle against the Wildcats' Khamri Thomas (5th NWCA | 6thd3wrestle.com), it was Ashcraft that prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision. With the result, Ithaca's talented junior finished the National Duals a perfect 4-0, which included three victories by fall and two wins against nationally-ranked opposition. The win also gave the Bombers a 19-10 advantage with two bouts remaining.
IC nearly scored a major upset at 197-pounds as freshman Dymir Davis-Carruth continued his strong performance on the big stage against Johnson & Wales' nationally-ranked 197-pounder Michael DiNardo (6th NWCA | 7thd3wrestle.com). Davis-Carruth held a 4-2 lead late into the third period, but sadly had things slip away in the final 30 seconds, as DiNardo earned an escape and a late takedown to pull out the victory. Despite the loss, the IC rookie's strong effort ensured the Johnson & Wales could not secure the necessary team points to equal or surpass Ithaca in the final bout.
O'Brien (5th NWCA | 3rd d3wrestle.com) made it a moot point in the final bout of the day. He dispatched Jonah Aurelio (10th NWCA) in a 3-0 decision to cap Ithaca's 22-11 victory.
Ithaca will have a two-week layoff to recover before making the short trip up Route 13 for the Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference Championship on Saturday, January 20. SUNY Cortland is set to host this year's event, which is slated to begin at 11:00 a.m. Ithaca has finished as ECWC Champions in each of the past four seasons heading into this year's competition.