After the first day of the EIWA Championships, Columbia has six wrestlers still in the running for a bid to NCAAs and three in contention for conference titles.
The format of the double-elimination tournament has all wrestlers start in the championship bracket and drop down to the consolation bracket if they lose a match. Only wrestlers in the championship bracket can win the title, but wrestlers in the consolation bracket can wrestle back up to third place.
Senior co-captain Josh Houldsworth, junior Shane Hughes, and first-year Markus Scheidel all made the semifinals in their championship brackets.
Houldsworth, the fourth seed at 165 pounds, met little resistance from two unseeded opponents, while at 157, seventh-seeded Scheidel pulled out a thrilling last-minute 4-3 upset of Cornell’s second-seeded Brian Realbuto to earn his way to the second day of competition.
Hughes, seeded second in the 174-pound competition, is the highest remaining seed in his championship bracket. The Lions’ star all season, Hughes has a good chance to give Columbia another EIWA champion the season after Steve Santos won the 149-pound tourney and finished third at nationals a year ago.
Senior co-captain Matt Bystol and sophomores Angelo Amenta and Zack Hernandez all lost one bout but are in the semifinals of their respective consolation brackets.
At 141, seventh-seeded Bystol lost his first match to the No. 10 seed, but he won consecutive matches, including a victory over fifth seed Laike Gardner from Lehigh, to make it to the consolation final four.
Head coach Carl Fronhofer said he knew that Bystol, a 2013 NCAA qualifier, would finish well even after being upset in the first round.
“He’s [Bystol is] such a hard-nosed kid and after his loss in the first round, I had no doubt that he was going to compete really well down the back side,” Fronhofer said. “It takes a lot of courage. He certainly has that.”
Amenta, the fifth seed at 133, lost 4-3 in overtime to fourth-seeded Vincent Dellefave of Rutgers, but he dominated Penn’s McKendry Bade 15-0 in the consolation bracket.
Hernandez lost to Brown’s third seed Ophir Bernstein for the second time this season, but staved off elimination with a 3-0 decision over Rutgers’ Dan Seidenberg.
Senior Penn Gottfried at 125, juniors Ryan Ponte at 149 and Matt Idelson at 197, and first-year Mike Fetchet at 285 were eliminated after losing two matches. Of those eliminated, however, all but Fetchet—a 197-pounder wrestling above his weight due to injuries in the lineup—won at least one match.
Fronhofer said he was satisfactied with the team’s performance on the first day.
“We wrestled extremely, extremely hard in all 10 weights,” Fronhofer said. “I was really proud of all of our guys, even the four guys that aren’t in the tournament right now. I was really happy with their effort and their competitiveness and their desire to compete here.”
On Sunday, the semifinalists in the championship brackets will wrestle for the chance to go to the title bouts. The losers of those semifinals will drop down to the consolation brackets, where the rest of the top eight finishers will be decided.