By David Gibb, Sports Editor
Coming off of their season-opening tie against the University of Buffalo, The Hofstra University Wrestling team stayed busy over the last two weeks with the he North Carolina State Open as well as the Northeast Duals.
The NC State Open is not a team event, but rather a series of individual double-elimination tournaments. Freshman Jamie Franco represented the Pride in the 125-pound weight class and entered the Open coming off a thrilling 1-0 victory in his debut for Hofstra against Buffalo. Franco coasted to a 7-0 decision over the Citadel's Giazzi Segarra in the Open's first round before defeating Taylor Cummings of host NC State 5-2 in the second. The third round, however, was not as kind to Franco, as he lost an extremely close 4-3 decision to Ben Kajar of the Utah Valley University. In his one match in the third place bracket, Franco fell 9-3 to Richard Alarcon of the Citadel who avenged the defeat of his teammate in the first round.
Junior Jeff Rotella represented the Pride at 133 pounds and received a first-round bye in the tournament. In the second round, however, he would run into the red hot Flint Ray of Utah Valley. Despite Rotella's best efforts, Ray defeated him 7-2 en route to capturing the Open title for the 133-pound weight class. Like Franco, Rotella exited the third place bracket rather quickly, losing to the University of Tennessee Christian's Jeremy Sandoval.
Tyler Banks, a redshirt freshman from Griswold, CT took the mat for Hofstra at 141 pounds. Banks started off his day by claiming a dominant 8-0 major decision against Chris Mullen of Duke and a second-round victory over the Citadel's Michael Fenton 2-0. Reiny Parrado of NC State was the next to fall to Banks, as the Pride grappler recorded his second major decision of the day, out-scoring Parrado 13-2 to reach the semi-finals for his weight class. In the semis, Banks claimed a close 8-6 victory over Dale Shull of NC State to advance to the finals at 141 pounds. Ivan Lopouchanski of UNC Greensboro opposed Banks in the final, and ultimately defeated the Hofstra wrestler 5-2 to win the 141-pound Open. Despite the loss, Banks still had a very strong showing, finishing second in a field of 25.
The Pride sent Justin Accordino to the mat in the 149-pound division, and the sophomore grappler responded with a 9-1 major victory over Daniel Helena of UNC in the first round. Accordino then defeated Dean Pavlou of UTC (who had also scored a major decision in his first match) in an extremely close 3-2 contest in his second match-up of the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Accordino had an extremely impressive performance, pinning Ryan Mevded of Gardner-Webb University in only a minute and a half. After three tremendous performances in the Open, Accordino was unfortunately injured in the semi-finals against Justin Morrill of Utah Valley necessitating that he forfeit his match and settle for eighth place.
2009 CAA Rookie of the Year P.J. Gillespie wrestled at 165 pounds for the Pride and started his day on a high note, pinning Gardner-Webb's Justin Guthrie for an encouraging early victory. Gillespie then defeated Kasey Young of NC State 6-2 in the second round and Victor Hojilla of Greensboro in the quarterfinals before another tremendous 7-1 victory against the Citadel's Justin Sparrow in the semifinals. The 165-pound final saw Hofstra's Gillespie take on Texas Christian's Brandon Wright. Gillespie prevailed, earning a 4-1 decision victory, and winning the weight class for himself and the Pride.
Junior Ryan Patrovich represented Hofstra in the 174-pound Open and made an immediate impact in the second round and after receiving a first-round bye. Patrovich made easy work of Newberry's Josh Tuck, pinning him for his first victory of the day. The impressive day for Patrovich continued with a dominating 14-3 major decision performance over Cameron Couch of UTC before the Pride wrestler recorded another major, this one 16-7, over Bret Klopp of Duke in the semis. Brad Darrington from Utah Valley, who pinned two men already on the day, opposed Patrovich for the 174-pound Open title. In a close match of two dominant wrestlers, Patrovich gained a narrow 3-1 decision to claim another weight class for Hofstra.
In the 184-pound Open, Ben Clymer, a sophomore from Greensville, PA took the mat for the Pride. Clymer shut out Ryan Sughrue of Greensboro, winning 4-0 before facing off against NC State's Jonathan Becker who had defeated his first opponent by means of an impressive 13-0 major decision. Obviously not intimidated, Clymer silenced Becker with a close 3-1 victory before scoring another big victory over Jason Porter of Gardner-Webb to springboard himself into the finals. Clymer was opposed by Andrew Saunders from Greensboro in the 184-pound Open final and emerged victorious from an extremely close match. Clymer's 2-1 win meant the third NC State Open title for the Hofstra Wrestling Team.
At 197 pounds, Hofstra sent experienced senior grappler Anthony Tortora to the mat. Tortora won a 6-3 decision in the first round against Gardner-Webb's Travis Porter before capturing a 10-2 major decision against Stephen Garrett of UTC en route to the semifinals. Unfortunately, the Citadel's Andrew Delaney proved too much for Tortora in the semis, as Delaney pinned Tortora to the mat for his second pinfall of day to advance to the final. In the third place bracket, Tortora lost by a narrow 3-2 margin in his second match of the day with Travis Porter, who managed to avenge his earlier loss before finishing fourth in the 197-pound Open.
Paul Snyder got off to an extremely hot start in the 285-pound open, earning a 10-2 major decision against Manuel Camargo of the Citadel and a second 9-0 major against Newberry's John Gibson. In the semifinals, however, eventual champion Peter Sturgeon from UNC Greensboro handed Snyder his first loss of the day with a 5-3 decision. Snyder had his third victory of the Open in the third place bracket, defeating Jack Burbank of Old Dominion 8-0 to earn his third major decision of the day. Snyder took the mat in the third place match, but ultimately fell 2-0 in a close match against UTC's Tom Minwell.
When the dust had settled and the NC State Open was over, the Hofstra Pride had captured the title in three of their nine weight classes. Only a week later, however, the Pride hit the mat again, this time upstate in the Journeyman/ASICS Northeast Duals. In a return to team scoring which saw Hofstra challenge three different teams, the Pride first matched up against Northern Colorado. Jamie Franco, Johnny Bonilla-Bowman, Ryan Patrovich, Ben Clymer, Anthony Tortora, and Paul Snyder all had victories against Northern Colorado wrestlers for Hofstra, earning the team an impressive 27-9 victory.
Unfortunately for the Pride, their next two opponents, #18 Virginia and #8 Nebraska had answers for Hofstra in almost every weight class. Only Ben Clymer, one of the three NC State Open champions on the team, remained undefeated on the day, posting a 3-0 record and victories of 12-0, 4-2, and 5-2. Despite Clymer's tremendous day, however, the Pride fell 28-6 against Virginia and 29-6 against Nebraska, ending their day 1-2 and pushing their overall record in head-to-head meets to 1-2-1.
The Pride wrestle this weekend in Primm, Nevada at the Cliff Keen-Las Vegas Invitational. Their next home meet will be Sunday, December 13 against Lock Haven University at 3pm.