NEW YORK – The Columbia wrestling team’s penchant for racking up bout points proved to be crucial Friday night, as the Lions and Bucknell were forced to go to tiebreaker with Columbia edging the Bison, 41-39, to win the match 19-18.
Both team’s won five bouts and recorded one fall, forcing bout points to come into play. Shane Hughes’ notched a thrilling pin at 174 pounds with just eight seconds left for the Lions, but No. 20 Joe Stolfi was able to earn a fall for Bucknell at the 2:58 mark in the heavyweight bout, tying the team score at 18-18.
Hughes’ fall marked the third straight bout victory to that point for Columbia and gave the Lions a 15-9 edge. Down 2-1 early in the third period, Hughes was denied an escape point as the bout was halted before he could be awarded the tying tally. After the restart, he would go on to earn the escape, but Joey Krulock would retake the lead with 27 seconds remaining. With time running out, Hughes sprang to his feet and made a quick move to send Krulock to his back, pinning him was just eight seconds remaining before the final buzzer.
Zack Hernandez was next up for the Lions at 184 pounds going against Rory Bonner. Feeding off the momentum of Hughes’ bout, Hernandez scored a fast two points with a takedown just seconds in. He extended his lead to 7-0 in the second period with a three-point and then two-point nearfall. Bonner got on the board with a takedown in the third period, but Hernandez picked up the riding time point for the 8-2 decision.
The win put Columbia ahead 18-9, but the Bison captured the final two bouts with a decision at 197 pounds and Stolfi’s fall to even the match at 18-18, with Columbia taking the tiebreaker.
Columbia was forced to fight back from a 6-0 deficit early on in the match after Bucknell picked up decisions at 125 and 133 pounds. Senior Matt Bystol got the Lions on the board with an 8-3 victory at 141 against Connor Lapresi. Bystol raced out to a 4-1 lead in the opening period with two takedowns, and then added an escape and another takedown in the second, while Lapresi managed just two escapes the rest of the bout.
Bucknell added three more points to its team score with a decision at 149 pounds, but first-year Markus Scheidel fired back for Columbia with his 20th win of the season. Scheidel built a solid 8-3 lead on Ray Schlitt with four takedowns in the first two periods and added an escape and the riding time point in the third for the 10-3 decision.
Senior Josh Houldsworth evened the team score at 9-9 in the 165-pound, wrestling his way to a hard-fought 1-0 decision against Rustin Barrick. The two grapplers went the first six minutes of the bout without a point, until Houldsworth was able to escape Barrick with 52 seconds left and then fended off his late takedown attempts to give Columbia three crucial team points.
Columbia will take two weeks off from competition before heading to Ithaca, N.Y. to face off against No. 3 Cornell in the first Ivy League match of the season.