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Pat Popolizio's Bearcats wrestling team won three individual titles and finished second in team points at the CAA Wrestling Championship at the Events Center on March 3.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Three Bearcats win conference titles
March 4, 2012Tweet
Hofstra crowned four individual champions and added two runnersup to edge host Binghamton by two points (80.5-78.5) and capture the program’s second straight CAA Wrestling Championship and 10th in the last 11 years. The seven-team event was held at Binghamton’s Events Center with seven teams and 70 wrestlers competing for the team crown and 23 NCAA individual berths.
After Hofstra and Binghamton in the team standings were Old Dominion (68.5 pts.), Boston University (34), Drexel (33.5), George Mason (30.5) and Rider.
Three Bearcats won titles: junior 149-pound Donnie Vinson, senior 157-pound Justin Lister and freshman heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski. Vinson, ranked No. 4 in the country, racked up a pin, technical fall and major decision and earned Most Outstanding Wrestler honors. In the finals against second-seeded Justin Accordino, Vinson rolled to a 12-3 major decision. Lister posted two pins en route to his title at 157. He put a stamp on his third straight CAA crown with a pin in 1:32 over second-seeded John Nicholson of ODU. Gwiazdowski won twice to capture the heavyweight title. In the final, he earned a 3-1 decision over top-seeded Kyle Frey of Drexel.
Junior 184-pound Nate Schiedel won twice to place second, junior 133-pound Patrick Hunter went 3-1 to place third and freshman 174-pound Caleb Wallace won twice to take third. Hunter’s only loss was a tiebreaking 6-4 decision at the hands of eventual runnerup Jamie Franco of Hofstra and he knocked off the top two seeds in his weight class. Wallace won twice, including a dramatic pin of Hofstra’s Jermaine John in the third-place bout, before losing to Boston’s Kyle Czarnecki 7-3 for “true” second with an NCAA spot on the line.
Also suffering a heartbreaking defeat was sophomore 197-pound Cody Reed, who was ahead 5-3 with 11 seconds left in his third-place match with Joe Budi of ODU. Budi, however, took advantage of a false whistle and grabbed an uncontested takedown to force overtime. In the one-minute tiebreaker, Budi shot in and ended the match, leaving Reed to await a possible NCAA at-large bid.
“Our top-level guys wrestled extremely well,” head coach Pat Popolizio said. “They are wrestling their best at the right time. I thought Patrick (Hunter) had a great tournament. I don’t know what happened in Cody’s match. Now he’s on the bubble for NCAAs.”
Four Bearcats secured NCAA Championship berths: Vinson, Lister, Schiedel and Gwiazdowski. Reed and senior 165-pound Matt Kaylor will hope for NCAA at-large selections. Kaylor went 2-2, suffering a 6-4 tiebreaker loss to eventual champion Paul Gillespie of Hofstra in the semifinals.