PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Columbia wrestling program has already put its stamp on the 2013 EIWA Championships and there is still one more day of competition left. For the first time since 1912, the Lions will be represented in the finals by three wrestlers. Matt Bystol (133), Steve Santos (149) and Josh Houldsworth (165) will take the mats Saturday afternoon at Rutgers University with the chance to become EIWA Champions.
The 1912 Columbia Lions notched four runner-up finishes. Columbia also has a chance to do something that hasn't been accomplished in 78 years. The last time Columbia had multiple champions in one year was 1935 when William Chilvers (126) and Ed King (1935) won titles. That feat has only been accomplished four times in Columbia wrestling history: 1905, 1907, 1911 and 1935.
As a team, Columbia finished day one in seventh place with 67.5 points, 3.5 ahead of Army. Jake O'Hara and Penn Gottfried also remains alive heading into Session III. O'Hara will open Saturday in the consolation semifinals, seeking a spot in the third-place match, while Gottfried will go for seventh.
At 149 pounds, Santos began the day with his fifth pin of the season, taking down Rutgers' Ken Theobold in 6:14. Santos held a 4-1 lead with over two minutes of riding time heading into the final minute of the match when he finally secured a complete hold on Theobold, pinning him on his back. The Brick, N.J. native added his sixth fall of the season in the next round, pinning the eighth-seed Andrew Lenzi from Penn.
In the semifinals, Santos took on the fourth-seeded Christopher Villalonga from Cornell. This was the first meeting this season between the two, as Santos did not wrestle during the dual match between the Lions and Big Red this season. Villalonga, who had two wins by decision to reach the semifinals, challenged Santos valiantly, but fell 4-2.
Army's Daniel Young, the third seed, will be across from Santos Saturday. The two met in the finals of the New York State Wrestling Championships, with Santos downing Young, 5-2. This matchup also happened in the 2011 EIWA Championships with Young taking the decision over Santos that year.
Bystol entered Friday as the eighth seed in the 133-pound bracket, but showed early on he could take on anyone. Up first for the Libertyville, Ill. native was the top seed, Vincent Dellafave from Rutgers. Bystol quickly took control and walked off the mat with a 6-1 decision in hand.
In the semifinals, the fifth-seeded Jordan Thome provided little resistance to Bystol's momentum, as the Columbia junior cruised to a 7-0 win. He will take on Lehigh's Randy Cruz in the finals, an opponent he has yet to face in his career with the Lions.
Houldsworth also opened the EIWA Championships with a great win, upsetting the second-seeded Corey Lear, 10-3. Bucknell's Lear advanced past Lehigh's Benjamen Haas in the opening round, but did not bring the same intensity to his match against Houldsworth. Houldsworth, also a junior for Columbia, maintained control of the match throughout to secure the win.
The semifinals of the 165-pound bracket featured a rematch of a Northeast Duals bout in which Nicholas Visicaro from Rutgers (the sixth seed) defeated Houldsworth, 4-3. This time around it would be Houldsworth who would earn the win, downing Visicaro with a 6-2 decision.
Houldsworth will have a chance to avenge a loss from the dual season to the top seed, and the nation's No. 1 wrestler, Kyle Dake from Cornell in the finals.
At 157 pounds, O'Hara will be looking to become the fourth Lion to secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. O'Hara was among the four Lions to reach the EIWA semifinals Friday, but a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Harvard's Walter Peppelman will force him to earn his bid through the consolation bracket.
O'Hara reached the championship round semifinals with an 11-3 major decision over Princeton's Brandon Rolnick and a 4-2 decision over Rutgers' Scott Winston. The victory over Winston made up for a 3-1 loss to the Scarlet Knight at the Northeast Duals earlier this season.
In the consolation semifinals, O'Hara will meet Cornell's Jesse Shanaman. The match will be a replay of a Feb. 2 battle that O'Hara won, 5-2.
Penn Gottfried will close out the Columbia lineup competing Saturday, as the junior will take on Patrick Prada with seventh place on the line. Gottfried will look to make up for a 6-4 defeat from the opening round against the Midshipman.
Following the first round defeat, Gottfried captured wins over Franklin & Marshall's Aaron Maldoff, 9-2, and Princeton's Max Rogers, 12-3. A tough loss to Army's Hunter Wood, by a score of 8-4, set up the seventh-place rematch.
Two additional wrestlers earned wins Friday for Columbia. Stephen West opened the 174-pound bracket with a pin of Sacred Heart's Sam Sheppard in 5:12, but was upset in the quarterfinals by Penn's Ian Korb. In the consolation round at the start of the evening session, West went up against Rutgers' Greg Zannetti, falling to his third-seeded opponent, 4-1.
Nick Mills dropped his opening round match in the 197-pound bracket, but bounced back with a major decision, 10-2, over Brown's Augustus Marker in the consolation bracket. Unfortunately, Bucknell's Tyler Lyster topped Mills, 10-0, in the next round.
The final day of the 2013 EIWA Championships begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with Session III. That session will feature the wrestleback semifinals and seventh-place matches, while the final session that is slated to begin at 3 p.m. will be the site of the fifth, third and first-place matches.