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Coming off a strong performance at the Franklin & Marshall Open, the new-look Princeton wrestling team (3-1) will open the heart of its dual meet season Friday at 6 pm against another new member of the EIWA, the Hofstra Pride (4-4).
The new look may be a subtle one, but it played a big role in Lancaster last weekend. While head coach Chris Ayres will be sending out most of the same starters that carried Princeton to a 3-1 start during the 2013 portion of the season, several of them are at different weights. That process began during the F&M Open last weekend, and the results spoke for themselves.
Freshman Brett Harner moved from 174 to 184, and he won the title with a last-second takedown. Junior Adam Krop moved from 141 to 149 and reached the finals. Freshman Jordan Laster (133 to 141), sophomore Kevin Moylan (149 to 157) and freshman Ray O'Donnell (197 to heavyweight) each moved and placed in the tournament.
The move also opened a spot for senior Ryan Callahan, a placewinner at the EIWA Championships last season. Callahan made the most of his opportunity, dominating his 174-pound bracket to win the title. Callahan and Harner joined sophomore Abe Ayala on the winner's podium; Ayala, arguably Princeton's breakout star of the first half of the season, won the 197-pound weight class.
"It was a terrific tournament for us, but now we have to carry that momentum into the dual meet season," Ayres said. "Hofstra is a strong program, and now it is a member of our conference, so it's going to be a big challenge. We need to be aggressive up and down the lineup and compete for every point we can score."
Hofstra is 4-4 on the season, though two of its losses came against Top 10 opponents. Senior Luke Vaith, a potential starter at 141, has All-America aspirations this season and is currently ranked inside the Top 15 in every major poll. Joe Booth, a graduate student at 165, is also a Top 20 wrestler, while senior Jamie Franco is in the Top 20 at 125 in the latest rankings by The Wrestling Report.
Saturday's match will be the final one for Princeton until the completion of the January finals break. The Tigers will return to competition with a pair of home matches Feb. 1, including its Ivy League opener against Cornell.
|PROBABLE STARTERS • Jan. 10, 2014