NEW YORK - The Columbia wrestling team is back in action this weekend as it heads to Ithaca, N.Y., to compete in the 43rd New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championship on Jan. 21-22 at Cornell's Bartels Hall.
The 19-team field will also include Alfred State, No. 20 Binghamton, The College at Brockport, Buffalo, No. 5 Cornell, SUNY Cortland, No. 25 Hofstra, Hunter, Ithaca, Jamestown CC, Nassau CC, NYU, Niagara County CC, Oneonta State, Rochester Institute of Technology, Army, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Yeshiva. First-round action will run from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, followed by an intermission and the quarterfinals. On Jan. 22, the semifinal round will begin at 10 a.m. with the finals and awards presentation to follow.
At the 42nd New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championship last season, Columbia finished second with 132.5 team points. Lester won the heavyweight title and Penn Gottfried (125), Kyle Gilchrist (133) and Eren Civan (165) took second in their respective weight classes.
125: Columbia's Robert Dyar's (7-11) field may feature two ranked wrestlers in No. 6 Frank Perrelli of Cornell and No. 13 Stephen Bonanno of Hofstra. Perrelli is coming off a 13-6 win over Binghamton's Derek Steely from No. 5 Cornell's 22-21 dual win on Jan. 15. Bonanno took a 19-3 tech fall win in 5:14 over Kutztown's Desmond Moore on Jan. 15 and will likely wrestle tonight in Hofstra's dual at American.
133: Kyle Gilchrist (17-8) saw his three-match streak of major decision victories end on Jan. 14 when Army's Jordan Thome bested him, 6-2. He'll look to bounce back in Ithaca against a field that features no wrestlers ranked in Intermat's top 25.
141: Both of Columbia's two main 141 wrestlers, Elijah Sullivan (9-5) and Matt Bystol (14-9) are starting to hit their stride at this point in the season and could find themselves going deep in a bracket that features no ranked opponents. Sullivan snapped a three-match losing streak with an 8-5 win over Army's Casey Smith. Bystol is on a three-match winning streak and his four wins by fall are tied for third on the team.
149: Steve Santos (13-5) has been dominant, winning each of his last five bouts. This weekend, Santos could get a second crack at No. 4 Donnie Vinson of Binghamton. Santos took a 4-1, TB1, victory over the then-No. 7 Vinson on Nov. 19 in the Body Bar Systems Invitational semifinals. Santos went on to take second in that tournament.
157: Jake O'Hara (16-9), whose four major decision wins rank second on the team, will look to return to his dominant form from earlier this season. His field could include two tough opponents in No. 1 Kyle Dake of Cornell and No. 7 Justin Lister of Binghamton. In the Cornell-Binghamton dual on Jan. 15, Dake moved up to 165 and pinned Joe Charnish in 6:23. At 157, Lister pinned Cornell's Craig Eifert in 1:48.
165: Eren Civan (6-4) saw his three- match winning streak end on Jan. 14 when Army's Cole Gracey edged him, 10-8. No. 19 P.J. Gillespie is the only possible ranked opponent he could face.
174: Stephen West (19-8) leads the team in wins and has won seven of his last eight bouts. This weekend's field features no ranked opponents for West at 174.
184: Shane Hughes (8-7) moved down from 197 to 184 for last week's match vs. Army. His 14-11 loss to Army's Michael Gorman was arguably the most thrilling match of the day. The 184-pound division looks to be a better fit for Hughes, who struggled in his six losses at 197. This week, Hughes could go toe-to-toe with as many as three ranked wrestlers in No. 3 Steve Bosak of Cornell, No. 11 Ben Clymer of Hofstra and No. 19 Nate Schiedel of Binghamton.
197: Nick Mills (9-9) moved up to 197 two weeks ago at the Pitt Duals and has gone 1-1 in the class since. He could end up facing No. 1 Cam Simaz of Cornell, who is coming off a 23-8 technical fall win over Binghamton's Cody Reed on Jan. 15.
285: Kevin Lester (18-7) will look to cross the 20-win threshold for the third time in his Columbia career. He was won eight straight bouts with three pins and one major decision. Lester, who has not wrestled a ranked opponent this season, could face No. 28 Nick Gwiazdowski of Binghamton.
The Lions will next head to Lancaster, Pa., for a dual against Franklin & Marshall on Jan. 27. Columbia opens its Ivy League dual schedule on Feb. 4 when it makes its third trip to Ithaca, N.Y., this season. The Lions return to University Gymnasium on Feb. 18 for a dual doubleheader against Brown and Harvard.