PHOTO GALLERY | COACH FRONHOFER POST-TOURNAMENT INTERVIEW
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Columbia wrestling team capped a
historic 2013 EIWA Championships Saturday, garnering four NCAA Championship
automatic qualifying bids and five placewinners. Senior Steve Santos put the
exclamation point on the tournament for Columbia with a 7-2 decision over
Army's Daniel Young to capture the 149-pound title, becoming the 19th
individual EIWA Champion in program history.
Matt Bystol (133 pounds) and Josh Houldsworth (165 pounds)
also reached the finals of their respective weight classes, finishing as the
runner-ups. Jake O'Hara will join the three previously mentioned wrestlers at
the NCAA Championships following his fourth-place showing at 157 pounds. Penn
Gottfried rounded out the Columbia placewinners, taking eighth at 125 pounds.
As a team, the Lions finished in eighth with 75 team points. Cornell won the
event with 142 team points.
This will be the first time since the 2007 season that
Columbia has sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships. That
accomplishment, although much shorter than the two 101 year old streaks the Lions
snapped on Friday, falls in line with the historic nature of the weekend for
"As a whole, [the EIWA Championship] was good for us, four
bids is historically good for us," said Carl Fronhofer, the Andrew F. Barth
Head Coach of Wrestling after the tournament. "Putting three guys in the finals
is also a huge step for our program."
The Lions also impressed the referees at the 2013 EIWA Championships, receiving the Team Sportsmanship Award given by the mat officials after the tournament.
In addition to current Lions performing well on the mat, a
former Columbia wrestler was also honored. Prior to the final session
beginning, the 2013 EIWA Hall of Fame Class was recognized. That class featured
former Columbia and NYAC wrestler, as well a major gift donor to the Lions and
national proponent of the sport of wrestling, Andrew F. Barth '83CC, '85BUS.
At 149 pounds, Santos found his way to Saturday's final with
a pair of falls in the first two rounds and a 4-2 decision in the semifinals
over Cornell's Christopher Villalonga. In the finals, Santos took on Army's
Daniel Young, an opponent he was 1-1 against in his collegiate career. After a
slow start to the match, Santos began tallying the points and rode out the
third period to a 7-2 victory. He becomes the first Columbia EIWA Champion
since heavyweight Ryan Flores in 2009.
"I think the thing that separates Santos from other guys is
how hard he competes," said Fronhofer after the tournament. "Steve understands
that even though you may deserve to win that you still have to go out and take
"This is a real special moment as an individual and a team,"
commented Santos after the tournament. "We got four qualifiers to the NCAA's which
is awesome. Everyone wrestled their hardest and as a senior its good to see all
the hard work we put in in the room together come out on the mat here is a
Eighth-seeded Bystol was the first Columbia wrestler on the
mats in the finals Saturday afternoon, taking center stage against the
second-seed, Randy Cruz from Lehigh. Cruz took the early 2-0 lead with a
takedown and then was able to procure over 90 seconds of riding time in the opening
period. He added an escape in the second, but Bystol made the point back when
Cruz was docked for stalling. Bystol made numerous attempts to shoot in the
third period, but Cruz recorded a late takedown and came away with the 6-1
decision. With only the top two at 133 pounds earning NCAA automatic qualifying
bids, Bystol and Cruz will represent the EIWA in Des Moines, Iowa.
"It doesn't really matter which weight class you're in, you
know your going to have to beat someone good, someone you're not suppose to
beat," said Bystol regarding his victories over higher-ranked opponents.
Houldworth reached the finals after downing two
higher-ranked opponents in Friday's first two sessions. The junior defeated
second-seeded Corey Lear from Bucknell and sixth-seeded Nicholas Visicaro from
Rutgers in the quarters and semis to earn his spot in Saturday's finals.
Houldsworth faced the toughest challenge of the day, going
up against the top-ranked wrestler in the nation at 165 pounds, Cornell's Kyle
Dake. Houldsworth showed his resiliency throughout the match, but Dake
performed well in front of the favorable crowd, topping Houldsworth with a
"I've known how good he could be for three years, I just
don't think he knew it and I think he realized it this year," commented
Fronhofer on Houldsworth.
"This is what we've been working for all year, this
tournament, to be able to make it to the NCAAs and now our goal is All-America,"
said Houldsworth on both his and the team's performance.
O'Hara and Navy's Bobby Barnhisel went head-to-head in a
close third-place match, but it would be the Midshipman that walked off the mat
with a 4-0 decision.
Columbia's final wrestler, Gottfried competed in the
morning session Saturday across from Navy's Patrick Prada in the seventh-place
match. In a rematch of the opening round match between the two, the result
ended in similar fashion with Prada taking a 4-2 decision.
Columbia's four automatic qualifiers will now turn their
attention to the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa from March 21-23. The
Lions will also be looking to add to that total when wildcard selections are
announced by the NCAA on Wednesday.