TOURNAMENT CENTRAL PAGE (with brackets)
After a 25-year hiatus, the mats were rolled back on the Jadwin Gym floor Saturday for the 2012 EIWA Championships; junior Garrett Frey made sure that Princeton fans would have a reason to stay all the through the championship finals.
Frey was brilliant Saturday, recording a technicall fall and two pins, to reach his second EIWA Championship final in three years. Frey will wrestle top-seeded Frank Perelli of Cornell, who was equally dominant in his run through the top half of the draw.
Frey was one of four Princeton wrestlers to place, though none of the four know for sure where they will finish. The consolation rounds will begin Sunday at 10, while the championship finals will begin at 3. The entire event will be streamed live on GoPrincetonTigers.TV, and you can receive live results on the @2012EIWAChamps twitter feed.
Frey will also make a third straight trip to the NCAA Championships, as he is assured one of the three automatic qualifiers at 125. For the first time, though, he will have some company. Senior teammate Daniel Kolodzik, who reached the semifinals before falling to two-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, can finish no worse than sixth at 157. With that loaded weight earning six NCAA bids, Kolodzik can go after All-America honors in two weeks at the NCAA Championships in St. Louis.
Princeton also got placewinners at 133 and 149, as freshman Chris Perez and junior Zach Bintliff will wrestle for seventh place Sunday. Though neither of them can earn an automatic qualifier to NCAAs, there is still plenty of hope for a third bid. Sophomore Adam Krop, who was injured in the season finale against Lehigh, worked tirelessly to get back on the mat. He battled for a 3-2 win in the first round, and nearly recorded a pin against American's Matt Mariacher, but he fell 9-3. Krop defaulted in the consolation and will have to wait until the middle of the week to see if he receives one of the four at-large bids. Ranked 15th in the latest NCAA Coaches Poll, he figures to be a strong candidate.
Frey won't need to wait on a committee's decision. He opened with a 16-1 technical fall over Harvard's Max Mejia, and then followed with a first-period pin of Navy's Tyler Sackett. Frey avoided an early shot by Sackett, got control for the takedown and immediately put his opponent on his back. Sackett tried to wiggle out, but Frey was far too deep to give up control.
That sent Frey against third-seeded Billy Watterson of Brown. Frey almost had a first-period pin against Watterson, but ultimately it ended with a four-point move. Watterson battled back in the second and ultimately tied the match at 5, setting up an exciting third period. The two ended in a scramble, and Frey was perfect all day in that situation. As he did against Sackett, he got behind, and then on top of, Watterson. He took the match with a fall at 5:53, and will now face Perrelli, whom he split with last season.
Kolodzik was seeded fourth at 157, and he clinched his NCAA berth by defeating Navy's Bobby Barnheisel by an 11-3 major decision. Kolodzik had a takedown seconds into the match and was in control throughout. He stayed with Dake through much of their semifinal, but the two-time NCAA champion was too quick and never allowed a takedown in a 12-4 major.
Kolodzik will now face Columbia's Jake O'Hara in the consolation semifinal. Kolodzik was 4-0 in the Ivy League and earned first-team All-Ivy honors, but a stomach virus kept him out of the regular season dual meet with Columbia, so this will be their first meeting of the season.
Perez also missed the Columbia match, as well as most of the matches in February, but he battled back to get into the EIWAs. He won the first conference championship match of his career with a 5-2 victory over Bucknell's Shawn Amato, but he fell 6-1 to top-seeded Steven Keith. Perez scored a 10-3 win in consolations, but re-aggravated an injury and had to default to Coulmbia's Kyle Gilchrist. If he is able to compete Sunday, he will wrestle for seventh against Army's Jordan Thome.
Bintliff took the long way to the podium. He dropped his opener 10-5 to eighth-seeded Kevin Tao of American. Tao grabbed an early lead, but Bintliff battled back and was still in the match before Tao scored a late takedown. That result looked all the more impressive as Tao advanced all the way to the championships, becoming the second-lowest ranked wrestler to reach the finals.
Bintliff defeated Bucknell's Alex Pellicciotti 12-10 in the consolation round, but fell to third-seeded Chris Villalonga of Cornell 11-2 in the next round. He will wrestle for seventh against Andrew Murano of F&M Sunday.
Princeton couldn't get much going in the upper weights. Seniors Andy Lowy (174) and Kurt Brendel (197) both saw their careers end with losses in both the championship and consolation draws. Sophomore Dan Santoro (184) earned a win in the consolations, but he was eliminated by sixth-seeded Cameron Croy of Harvard. Freshman Rich Eva made his EIWA championship debut at 165, and junior Charles Fox returned for Princeton at heavyweight, but neither managed a win.
* Cornell is looking for an unprecedented sixth straight EIWA title, and it heads into Saturday with a 17.5-point edge over Lehigh. Both teams will have all 10 wrestlers place this weekend, but Cornell (with five championship finalists) has 136.5 points, while Lehigh (4) has 119. American is holding off both Penn and Navy for third with 88.5 points.
* Nine of the 14 teams will be represented in the championship round, the same amount from last year. However, three teams return to the finals this year, and all are from the Ivy League. Joining Princeton in the finals is Harvard (Walter Peppelman, 157) and Brown (Dave Foxen, 174), while Columbia, Army and Bucknell missed out on a return trip.
* Foxen of Brown is the lone unseeded wrestler to reach the championships. He knocked out the No. 2, 3 and 6 seeds en route to the finals.
125 - #1 Frank Perrelli (Cornell) v. #2 Garrett Frey (Princeton)
133 - #4 Aaron Kalil (Navy) v. #2 Bryan Ortenzio (Penn)
141 - #5 Matthew Mariacher (American) v. #2 Michael Nevinger (Cornell)
149 - #8 Kevin Tao (American) v. #6 Shane Welsh (Lehigh)
157 - #1 Kyle Dake (Cornell) v. #3 Walter Peppelman (Harvard)
165 - #1 Brandon Hatchett (Lehigh) v. #2 Scott Winston (Rutgers)
174 - #4 Oscar Huntley (Navy) v. Dave Foxen (Brown)
184 - #1 Steve Bosak (Cornell) v. #2 Robert Hamlin (Lehigh)
197 - #1 Cam Simaz (Cornell) v. #2 Micah Burak (Penn)
285 - #1 Robert Flores (American) v. #2 Zach Rey (Lehigh)