This past weekend, senior heavyweight Michael Hughes became the first Hofstra All-American wrestler since Steve Bonanno and Justin Accordino finished in No. 8 and No. 6 respectively in the 2012 NCAA Championships.
Hughes finished the weekend in No. 6 after falling to the University of Iowa’s No. 5 Sam Stoll in the fifth-place bout in Saturday morning’s session.
Hughes began his tournament on Thursday afternoon with a dominant win over Jake Gunning of University at Buffalo in the first round. He was then pinned by No. 6 Amarveer Dhesi of Oregon State University after getting caught in Dhesi’s cradle and being unable to break out of it. That was the last match of the day for Hughes.
On Friday morning, Hughes was matched up with an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) foe in Antonio Pelusi from Franklin & Marshall College in the consolation bracket. Hughes took care of business with a fall in 2:33 to stay alive.
His next match was against Billy Miller from Edinboro University, where Hughes cruised to another victory, this one was 2-0 in favor of Hofstra’s big man. That win advanced him to Friday night’s session.
Hughes’s first match of the Friday night session came against Derek White from Oklahoma State University, who came into the match with a 25-2 record. One of those losses had come at the hands of Hughes in the Journeyman Classic back in November. Hughes extended his record to 2-0 against White with a dominant 6-1 victory. White was the No. 9 wrestler in the bracket. This win secured a spot on the podium for Hughes.
Friday continued to be a dominant day for Hughes as he continued his run for third place with an 8-0 victory over the University of Maryland’s Youssif Hemida. Hughes finished that match with 6:42 of riding time. To put that in perspective, NCAA wrestling matches are seven minutes long, meaning Hughes spent all but 18 seconds riding Hemida. That was the final match for Hughes on Friday.
In Satuday’s morning session, Hughes lost again to Dhesi, this time by a score of 3-1. This put Hughes in the fifth-place bout, going up against Stoll. In that bout, Hughes was pinned by the No. 5 wrestler at the 2:04 mark to end his Hofstra career with a sixth-place finish.
Hughes’s 19 pins this season was most in the nation, which he was acknowledged for on Saturday night after the final session.
Hughes’s time in a Hofstra singlet may be over, but Hofstra head coach Dennis Papadatos said on Twitter, “We plan on keeping him around…”
Freshman Yianni Diakohimalis of Cornell University was the lone NCAA champion from the EIWA at the 141-pound weight class. Darian Cruz of Lehigh University finished at No. 5 in the 125-pound weight class.
Penn State University squeaked by Ohio State University to earn their seventh team title in the last eight years. The Nittany Lions finished with 142.5 team points, thanks in part to their five finalist and four champions.