With four placewinners and some impressive debut performances from its freshman class, the 2012-13 Princeton wrestling season got off to a solid start Sunday at the 2012 Binghamton Open.
Senior co-captain Zach Bintliff (149) joined the freshman trio of Abram Ayala (165), Judd Ziegler (165) and Scott Gibbons (184) on the podium Sunday. For Bintliff, it was a second straight year placing at this talent-heavy tournament, while his youngest teammates each made an impressive start to their Princeton careers.
"The tournament did exactly what we needed it to do," head coach Chris Ayres said. "It showed us where we need more work, where we need to improve. There were a lot of good things; I thought our conditioning was the best it's been at this tournament. Overall, it focuses us a little bit more on the areas we need greater improvement."
Bintliff, a two-time placewinner at EIWAs, opened his day with a 10-1 major decision and a 16-1 technical fall against opponents from both Rutgers and Hofstra. Eventual finalist Mac Maldarelli knocked Bintliff out in the quarterfinals 8-4, but Bintliff followed with two wins in the consolation draw to earn a spot on the podium. He pinned Jordan Rich of Lock Haven in 4:29 to earn fifth in the tournament.
Both Ayala and Ziegler made Princeton's deepest runs in the main draw, winning three matches apiece in their collegiate debuts before falling in the semifinals.
Ayala opened with an 8-2 win over Army's Kenneth Skillman, and followed with an 8-4 win over Aaron McKinney of Lock Haven. A 5-3 win over Binghamton's Adam Lepkowsky assured Ayala a spot on the podium, though he was forced to go through consolations after a 4-0 loss in the semifinal. He would share fifth place with Ziegler, his classmate.
Ziegler opened his collegiate career with a 7-2 win over Hofstra's Dan Spurgeon, and he followed with a 9-1 major decision over Eric Deslauriers of Boston University. He moved into the semifinals with a 7-4 decision over Jack Mckeever (Binghamton), and he nearly topped eventual 165-pound champion Ramon Santiago before suffering a 6-5 loss. Ziegler lost by one point in the consolation semifinal as well, and ended the day sharing fifth with Ayala.
Gibbons had to take the long route to the podium, but he did so nonetheless. After a tough 4-3 loss to open his main draw, Gibbons caught fire in the consolation draw. After an 11-0 major and a first-period pin, Gibbons scored a 3-2 win over Binghamton's Cody Reed and a 7-3 victory over Lehigh's Brandon Griffin to reach the podium.
He finally fell 3-2 to Rider's Clint Morrison, and he ultimately finished sixth after a 4-3 loss to Harvard's Cameron Croy, a placewinner at last year's EIWA championships. Throughout his day, he went 5-3, and each of his three losses came by one point apiece.
Sophomore Ryan Cash, who earned varsity experience last season while replacing the injured Garrett Frey, won a pair of matches in the championship draw. After a 12-5 win in the opener, he scored a 14-5 major decisions in the second round. He was defeated by eventual champion Nashon Garrett of Cornell, but it was a strong start for Cash.
Freshman teammate Max Rogers also scored a win at 125, as he pinned Joe Harris of Sacred Heart in the second period. Rogers would lose in the consolation draw to Binghamton's David White, who eventually knocked Cash out of the draw as well.
Senior Garrett Frey is a Top 20 preseason pick nationally at 133 pounds, and he opened his season with a fall over Tom Burke of Sacred Heart in 39 seconds. He drew James Gulibon of two-time reigning NCAA champion Penn State in the second round and lost 10-2. Gulibon went on to place third at the weight class, and fifth-place finisher Jimmy Morris knocked Frey out of the consolation draw.
Classmate Andrew Hirai was very competitive in both of his matches, but he lost two matches by two points apiece.
Freshman Nick Maselli had a strong debut at 141, winning a pair of matches in the championship bracket. After an 8-4 victory over Penn's Eric Devos, he scored a 7-3 win over Tyler Pendergast of the host Binghamton squad. He would ultimately fall in two matches to a pair of placewinners, while classmate Kevin Moylan won one consolation match during his debut performance.
Princeton sent out a trio of competitors at 157, and each won at least one match. The only Tiger to not win in the main draw was Kyle Roddy, but he more than made up for that in the wrestlebacks. Starting with a tech fall in his first consolation match, Roddy went on a run of five straight wins before falling one match short of the podium.
Both Steven Leshinger and Seth Hazleton won once in the main draw. Leshinger scored an 8-4 win over Harvard's Joe Marino, while Hazleton topped Joe Chamish of Binghamton 8-6. Hazleton added a pin in the consolation draw before eventually falling to Penn State's James Vollrath, who wrestled back to third.
Sophomore Grayson Shepperd competed at 165, but he dropped a pair of close matches, including a 5-3 decision in the consolation round.
At 285, Charles Fox dropped a pair of decisions, including a 3-0 match in the wrestlebacks.
Princeton returns to competition next Sunday when it competes in Philadelphia at the Keystone Open.