Civan and Lester Both Qualify for NCAA Championships at EIWA Championships
LEWISBURG, PA. -Day two of the EIWA Championships saw a number of big wins for the Columbia wrestling team. Kevin Lester's pin over Stryker Lane of Cornell solidified his trip to the NCAA Championships, while Nick Mills bounced back from a heartbreaking overtime loss to place fifth in dramatic fashion. In the championship finals, Eren Civan dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Scott Winston in the tiebreaker.
"The first round went very well today," said Brendan Buckley, the Andrew F. Barth Head Coach of Wrestling. "We wrestled with a lot of heart and the team seemed to be feeding off of one another. Lester was dominant in earning a bid and Mills was very close. All in all, it was a pretty good weekend and we will now use this as a stepping stone for next year with nine of our ten starters from this year's line-up returning."
In the finals on Sunday afternoon, Civan squared off against Winston from Rutgers who is ranked No. 8 in the country. After a scoreless first period, Winston took a 2-0 lead on a reversal to begin the second. Civan escaped before the period ended, and again to begin the third to knot the score at 2-2 and ultimately force the overtime. Neither wrestler could score in the sudden victory period, but Winston got an escape in the first tie-breaker. Civan got close a couple of times but was unable to escape, ultimately placing second overall at 165 pounds. As a result, he automatically qualifies for the NCAA Championships in two weeks for the second year in a row.
Lester punched his ticket to the NCAA's after his first match when he easily pinned Lane in 1:55 in the consolation semifinals. Lester was pinned in the consolation finals by Dominick Russo of Rutgers, currently ranked fourth in the nation, to place fourth overall in the heavyweight weight class.
In his first match of the day, Mills squared off against Navy's Luke Rebertus who is ranked No. 13 in the country. Neither wrestler was able to score in the first period, but Mills got on the board first with an escape 30 seconds into the second period. Rebertus did the same to begin the third to even the score at 1-1 and ultimately force an overtime period. After a scoreless sudden victory period, Rebertus escaped to begin the first tiebreaker with 18 seconds to go in the period. Mills started down in second period, and although Rebertus was called for the stall, Mills was unable to escape as he lost a hard fought battle.
But he wasn't done yet. Competing for fifth place, Mills found himself pitted against Rob Waltko of Bucknell. Waltko led 1-0 entering the third after scoring a point for an escape in the second. Mills chose bottom to begin the third, and in the blink of an eye, reversed Waltko and pinned him nine seconds into the period to place fifth overall at his first EIWA Championship.
Steve Santos placed seventh at 149 pounds after defeating Andrew Lenzi of Penn 3-0 in his only match of the day. After a scoreless first period, Santos scored all three of his points in the second with an escape and takedown, and held on for the win.
His classmate, Stephen West, also took seventh at 174 pounds. West and Collin Wittmeyer of Army were battling hard the entire time, as both wrestlers only managed one point for an escape in regulation. It was West's 1:09 of riding time that proved to be the difference as West went on to win 2-1.
Mike Pushpak placed eighth at 197 pounds after falling 11-7 to Peter Huntley of Navy in his lone match of the day.
Columbia now waits to see if any wrestlers get chosen as wildcards to join Civan and Lester at the NCAA Championships in Philadelphia, Pa. on March 17-19.