NEW YORK – The Columbia wrestling team will wrap up the regular season this weekend with a pair of Ivy League duals in the University Gym, hosting Harvard on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. and Brown in the season-finale on Sunday, Feb. 23 at 3 p.m. Friday’s match will serve as Homecoming with 2013 All-American Steve Santos being honored in a pre-match ceremony, while Sunday will be Senior Day.
The Lions enter the weekend .500 (6-6) and 3-5 in EIWA action following a pair of tough road losses to Princeton and Penn last week. Columbia lead 16-7 through the first seven bouts against the Tigers following Shane Hughes’ major decision at 174 pounds against Ryan Callahan, but Princeton rallied with win in the final three bouts, including two major decisions to escape with an 18-16 win. Penn proved a more formidable foe, winning eight of 10 bouts to come away with the 24-10 victory.
Coming off defeats at home to Penn and Princeton, Harvard got back in the win column with a 30-10 throttling of Brown on Feb. 15. The Crimson jumped out to a 14-0 lead on the Bears after earning bonus points at 125 (forfeit) and 141 (tech fall) and never looked back, capping the match with a pin at heavyweight by Nicholas Gajdzik.
Brown is coming off consecutive losses to Harvard and Boston University at home on Feb. 15 to drop to 3-9 on the season. After the large margin of defeat to the Crimson, Brown battled BU tough, winning four bouts, including Ophir Bernstein’s pin on Aaron Conrad at 184 pounds, but the Terriers still picked up the 22-15 victory.
PROBABLE STARTERS (Rankings Based on Feb. 13 NCAA Coaches’ Panel Rankings)
Penn Gottfried (13-13) vs. Max Mejia (Harvard, 1-3)
Despite sporting an overall record of 13-13, Gottfried has struggled during dual competition, going 3-9 in 12 bouts. Gottfried earned his third dual victory last Friday against Princeton, downing Ryan Cash with a 9-5 decision. Harvard and Brown have each forfeited the 125-pound bout in numerous matches this season. Max Majia for Harvard is just 1-3 on the season, while Brown does not have a probable heading into the weekend.
Angelo Amenta (15-9) vs. Jeffrey Ott (Harvard, 6-7)/Anthony Finocchiaro (Brown, 17-12)
Amenta has won seven of his last eight bouts after posting a pair of victories last weekend. Garrett Frey from Princeton went down in a decision to Amenta Friday and the following afternoon Penn’s McKendry Bade became Amenta’s third major decision victim of the season. Ott has just 11 bouts under his belt this season, but of his five victories, three have been via major decision. Finocchiaro had his four-bout win streak snapped last Saturday, dropping bouts to Ott and Dane Harlowe from BU.
No. 29 Matt Bystol (16-9) vs. No. 30 Todd Preston (Harvard, 17-8)/Zachary Tanenbaum (Brown, 4-7)
Friday night will feature a premier bout between two grapplers looking to move up in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings. Bystol versus Preston features the No. 29 and 30 wrestlers, respectively, in the second poll of the season. Columbia’s senior co-captain is coming off a narrow defeat at Penn last Saturday to Jeff Canfora, 5-4, and will be facing Preston and Tanenbaum for the first time. Preston topped Tanenbaum last weekend with a convincing 22-5 tech fall.
Ryan Ponte (11-7) vs. Nick Stager (Harvard, 3-15)/Steven Galiardo (Brown, 13-12)
After opening the season 9-2, Ponte is just 2-4 in his last six outings, including two losses last weekend to Princeton’s Adam Krop and Penn’s Andrew Lenzi. Stager is just 1-6 in dual bouts this season and just 3-15 overall. Galiardo has been victorious in his last three bouts, including a 13-5 major against Stager.
Markus Scheidel (21-9) vs. Tyler Grimaldi (Harvard, 12-14)/Justin Staudenmayer (Brown, 15-15)
It had been over two months since Scheidel lost consecutive bouts, but he was edged in a couple two-point decisions to Princeton’s Kevin Moylan and and Penn’s Raamiah Bethea. Grimaldi is one of six Harvard wrestlers to compete at 157 pounds this year, going 11-12 overall and 3-3 in dual competition. His most recent bout ended in a 7-1 decision in his favor against Brown’s Staudenmayer. Staudenmayer dropped to 15-15 with a loss to BU’s Nestor Taffor.
No. 27 Josh Houldsworth (19-10) vs. Devon Gobbo (10-6)/Philip Marano (Brown, 12-14)
Houldsworth and Gobbo met earlier this season at the Midlands, with the Lion notching the 4-3 decision. In dual action last season, Houldsworth racked up a 10-1 major decision against Gobbo. Gobbo is 2-0 in dual bouts this season for Harvard, picking up the 8-2 decision over Brown’s Marano last weekend. Marano has lost his last four bouts, all by decision.
No. 16 Shane Hughes (18-6) vs. Ian Roy (1-4)Ricky McDonald (Brown, 18-10)
Hughes has won nine straight and 14 of his last 15 to move into the top-10 in the latest AWN (9th) and WIN (10th) rankings. More impressively, 10 of those victories have been in bonus point fashion with six falls and four major decisions. Roy and Eric Morris have split time at 174 during duals for the Crimson. Morris has wrestled to a 14-10 overall mark, but Roy was on the mat last Saturday, falling to Brown’s McDonald, 5-1. McDonald has been among the most impressive Bears of late, winning nine of his last 10 bouts.
Zack Hernandez (18-8) vs. Cameron Croy (Harvard, 10-12)/No. 13 Ophir Bernstein (Brown, 27-7)
Hernandez entered last weekend with a seven-bout win streak intact, but Princeton’s Brent Harner and Penn’s Lawrence Thomas each earned wins at home against Hernandez last weekend. Croy and Bernstien mat last Saturday in Providence, R.I. with the 13th-ranked Bernstein coming away with the 8-1 decision. Bernstein has continued to perform well the last two months, posting 13 wins in 15 bouts during that span.
Matt Idelson (6-11) or Troy Hembury (16-5) vs. No. 33 James Fox (Harvard, 12-7)/Augustus Marker (Brown, 13-16)
Idelson has been the primary 197-pounder for Columbia this season, going 2-5 in dual action, but Hembury took the mat last weekend at Princeton and Penn, falling in both bouts to drop to 16-5 overall. Fox dispatched of Marker last Saturday with a 12-3 major decision, improving to 5-2 in duals this year. Following Marker’s major decision loss to Fox, he then dropped another bout the same way to BU’s Alex Najjar.
Conor Sweeney (9-8) vs. David Ng (7-7) or Nick Gajdzik (Harvard, 2-7)/Ryder Cavey (Brown, 10-10)
Sweeney will look to snap out of a four-bout losing skid and stay above .500 as the regular season comes to a close. Gajdzik represented Harvard last Saturday at Brown, pinning Cavey in 1:46 for his first dual victory. Ng is 2-1 in dual bouts this season. Cavey’s loss to Gajdzik is his lone defeat in his last six bouts, as he bounced back with a 6-2 decision again BU’s Kevin Innis.