NEW YORK – The Columbia wrestling team will hit the road for the final time this weekend before postseason action, traveling to Princeton Friday evening and Penn Saturday afternoon. Both matches will be shown live on the Ivy League Digital Network, with Friday’s match against the Tigers beginning at 7 p.m. and Saturday’s contest versus the Quakers set for a 1 p.m. start.
The Lions are coming off a strong performance last weekend at No. 4 Cornell. The Big Red edged Columbia, 22-15, but it needed wins in the final two bouts to earn the victory after the Lions used consecutive wins at 174 and 184 pounds to even the match at 15-15. Despite the loss, the 15 points were the most since any Lions team has scored against Cornell since 1991.
Columbia will look to get back above .500 in the EIWA when it challenges a streaking Princeton team Friday. The Tigers have won three straight duals, with wins in the Ivy League against Harvard (19-17) and Brown (21-16). Overall Princeton is 8-2 and 2-1 in the Ancient Eight, having lost to Cornell at home, 37-6. Columbia has won 11 of the last 12 against Princeton, including last season’s 30-7 throttling at the NYAC.
Conversely, Penn has dropped three of its last four duals after splitting last weekend against the Crimson and Bears. On Feb. 7, Penn defeated Harvard, 23-12, but was narrowly edged the next day by Brown, 18-16. Columbia will be looking for its first win against the Quakers since the 2006-07 campaign.
PROBABLE STARTERS (Rankings Based on NWCA Jan. 25 Poll)
Penn Gottfried (12-12) vs. Ryan Cash (Princeton, 6-8)/No. 27Caleb Richardson (Penn, 9-7)
Gottfried will be facing Cash and Richardson for the first time this weekend. The senior fell to an even 12-12 on the year with a technical fall to No. 1 Nahshon Garrett from Cornell last week. Cash has won three of his last four bouts, including matches against Harvard and Brown to improve to 6-8 overall. Prior to his recent success, Cash had dropped six straight bouts. Richardson has struggled against EIWA opponents, winning just one of four bouts this season.
Angelo Amenta (13-9) vs. Jake Intrator (Princeton, 2-10)/Ken Bade (Penn, 7-12)
Amenta has continued his strong dual season, improving to 7-3 in those bouts following a 3-2 decision against Cornell’s Bricker Dixon. Intrator has struggled this season, dropping his last seven bouts. His last win came on Jan. 4 in a technical fall against York’s Ronald Hindman. Bade is 7-12 in his first year with the Quakers after losing three of his last four bouts.
No. 26 Matt Bystol (15-8) vs. Jordan Laster (Princeton, 19-16)/Jeff Canfora (Penn, 14-12)
Bystol will look to bounce back this weekend after falling to Cornell’s Michael Nevinger, 11-4. Bystol is one of four Lions ranked in the first NWCA poll and will be looking to pick up momentum heading into the EIWA and NCAA Championships. Laster has competed in the most bouts of any Tiger this season, improving to 19-16 with a 10-4 decision against Brown’s John, Twomey-Komak. Canfora snapped his own three-bout losing streak with a 12-1 major decision over Twomey-Kozak on Feb. 8. Bystol and Canfora met at last season’s dual at 133 pounds with the Quaker coming away with the 8-2 victory.
Ryan Ponte (11-5) vs. Adam Krop (Princeton, 24-6)/Andrew Lenzi (Penn, 11-8)
Ponte was in action last Saturday at the Edinboro Open, going 2-2. Buffalo’s Jason Esterez and Lock Haven’s Richard Brydon both fell victim to Ponte via decisions. With the most wins on the team at 24, Krop carries a three-bout win streak into Friday’s showdown. Krop notched two Ivy League wins last weekend, posting a tech fall over Harvard’s Nick Stager and a 9-4 decision against Brown’s Steven Galiardo. Lenzi also rebounded from a loss to No. 8 Chris Villalonga with wins over Stager and Galiardo via decision.
No. 32 Markus Scheidel (21-7) vs. Kevin Moylan (Princeton, 17-8)/No. 30 Ray Bethea (Penn, 15-7)
Coaches around the nation have taken notice of Scheidel’s rookie campaign, ranking him 32nd in the first NWCA poll of the season. Scheidel has yet to lose in 2014, ripping off seven straight dual victories punctuated by an overtime win last weekend against Cornell’s Taylor Simaz. Moylan has been one of the best wrestler in the Tigers’ lineup the last six weeks, notching wins in eight of 10 bouts over that span. A hiccup against Army’s Paul Hancock is the only loss for Bethea in his last four bouts. Of his 15 wins this year, 14 have come via decision.
No. 23 Josh Houldsworth (18-9) vs. No. 31 Judd Ziegler (Princeton, 22-15)/No. 19 Casey Kent (Penn, 15-5)
Each of these bouts will be a rematch from last season for Houldsworth, who downed Ziegler, 8-3, but dropped a heartbreaker to Kent, 1-0. Each grappler was ranked in the first NWCA poll and each has at least 15 victories. Ziegler has split his last six bouts, but earned Ivy League wins against Brown and Harvard. Kent holds the highest ranking of the trio at No. 19, having won six of his last seven bouts.
No. 16 Shane Hughes (16-6) vs. Ryan Callahan (Princeton, 17-7)/Zach Agostino (Penn, 7-9) or Brad Wukie (8-7)
Hughes has continued his breakout campaign as a junior, posting a 12-1 record and a runner-up finish at Midlands since Dec. 29. He recorded his sixth fall of the year at Cornell, pinning Craig Eifert in 1:51. He is the highest ranked Lion in the NWCA poll. Callahan has been almost equally impressive for Princeton, winning 11 straight bouts from Dec. 29 – Feb. 8 before dropping a 5-3 decision to Richard McDonald from Brown. Agostino and Wukie are each coming of consecutive losses last weekend.
Zack Hernandez (18-6) vs. Brett Harner (Princeton, 22-9)/No. 13 Lorenzo Thomas (19-7)
Identical to Hughes, Hernandez is unbeaten in duals since the New Year after pushing his win streak to seven bouts with a 6-2 toppling of Cornell’s William George. Hernandez and Houldsworth each have an opportunity to join Scheidel in the 20-win club this weekend. Despite not being ranked, Harner has come on strong, winning nine of his last 11 bouts, but Brown’s Ophir Bernstein majored him the last time out, 12-1. Thomas is the highest ranked wrester on any of the three teams this season, coming in at No. 13. The 2011-12 Ivy League Rookie of the Year has been streaky this season, but has been the victor in five of his last six bouts.
Matt Idelson (6-10) vs. No. 33 Abram Ayala (Princeton, 19-8)/No. 25 Frank Mattiace (13-11)
Idelson will look to snap his three-bout losing streak this weekend, but Ayala and Mattiace, both ranked, will provide a tough challenge. Ayala earned the final slot in the initial NWCA poll with a 19-8 record to this point of the season. The sophomore had his eight-bout win streak snapped on Feb. 1 by Cornell’s Jace Bennet, but rebounded with victories in his favor in his last two bouts.
Conor Sweeney (9-10) vs. Ray O’Donnell (Princeton, 12-9)/Steven Graziano (Penn, 7-14)
Similar to Idelson, Sweeney is looking to snap a three-bout losing skid and get back to .500 overall. O’Donnell last competed on Feb. 1, recording a major decision against Cornell’s Jacob Aiken-Phillips. It was his second win in a row after pinning F&M’s Alexander Henry in 2:13 earlier that day. Graziano has come away with just one win in his last seven bout, needing sudden victory to get past Army’s Trevor Smith on Jan. 26.