Hartman, Phipps compete at NCAA Wrestling Championships


Drew Phipps ’20 and Zach Hartman ’22 competed at the NCAA tournament held from March 21-23.

Patrick Dempsey, Sports Co-Editor

Bison wrestlers Zach Hartman ’22 and Drew Phipps ’20 competed at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh on March 21-22. After dropping both of their opening bouts by tight decisions, Hartman and Phipps rebounded nicely with victories in their first consolation matchups. With the wins, Hartman and Phipps advanced to the second day of competition, where both wrestlers suffered their second losses of the tournament, ending their 2018-2019 season.


Phipps entered championship weekend ranked No. 28 in the country for the 197-pound weight class. He faced a tough test in his opening bout, drawing No. 5 Jacob Warner of Iowa.

The Hawkeye was in control for the majority of their bout, creating an 8-2 lead and 3:29 riding advantage through two periods. Phipps almost stunned his opponent when he scored a takedown with 11 seconds remaining in regulation and added four back points. Ultimately, Warner prevailed due to his riding time point, winning the bout 9-8.


In his first consolation matchup, Phipps won decisively 7-0 over fellow Patriot League wrestler No. 12 Rocco Caywood of Army West Point.  It was Phipps’ third victory over Caywood this season.


Hartman entered championship weekend ranked No. 14 in the country for the 157-pound weight class. No. 19 Griffin Parriott of Purdue upset Hartman in his opening bout with a 7-4 decision. Hartman trailed Parriott 5-2 entering the final period. In exciting fashion, Hartman scored a late reversal to cut his deficit to 5-4. Parriott had secured the riding time point, so Hartman fought hard to secure another takedown, but he ultimately gave up a last-second escape to finish the bout with a loss.


In his first consolation round match, Hartman defeated No. 30 Christian LaBrie of Brown University by a score of 12-9. Hartman caught himself behind again in this match, losing 8-6 with only a minute remaining in the third period. With 35 seconds left, Hartman scored a reversal. He still needed to score more points, though, as LaBrie had locked up the riding time point already. With his season on the line, Hartman turned LaBrie with five seconds left to advance behind a 12-9 decision. (Video of the unbelievable comeback can be seen on Twitter @Bucknell_WRST or on bucknellbison.com.)


Hartman and Phipps had one goal on Thursday: to survive and advance to day two of the tournament. Both wrestlers competed against very challenging competition, but they were ultimately successful in their goal.


“It was an amazing experience that showed me who I really was and how the whole year added up to one tournament,” Hartman said. “It showed me how all of the season is just training for the big stage.”


Day two would not be any easier for Hartman and Phipps. They knew that the further they advanced, the better competition they would face.


After scoring a last-second takedown to edge Army West Point’s Lucas Weiland by a 6-5 decision, Hartman advanced to the third round of the 157-pound consolation bracket. He ultimately fell in the third round to Oklahoma’s Justin Thomas by an 11-8 decision.


“It was awesome to have those comeback victories and showed me how the tournament isn’t fully about who has the most technique and skill, but who has the most grit and want,” Hartman said.


Phipps’ opponent in the 197-pound consolation bracket’s second round was No. 6 Iowa State’s Willie Miklus, a three-time All-American. Phipps got on the scoreboard first with a quick takedown and he led 4-2 at the end of the opening frame. Miklus proved to be too powerful, though, as he then took control of the bout and advanced behind a 17-4 major decision.


“I thought I performed pretty well overall,” Phipps said. “I lost two hard-fought battles to guys who ended up becoming All-Americans. Overall, it really gave me confidence because it showed that I can wrestle with anyone in the country when I bring my A-game.”


Hartman impressed fans with thrilling come-from-behind victories in his first trip to the NCAA Championship. He wrapped up an impressive first collegiate season behind a 28-9 (14-4 dual) record. Likewise, Phipps finished another strong season behind a 25-12 (15-3 dual) record. Both wrestlers will return for another season with the Bison.


“It was a lifetime experience wrestling with the Orange and Blue this season,” Hartman said. “Not only did I learn wrestling to new extents, but I learned an enormous amount of life lessons from this season. It showed me what really matters and to always keep your end goal in mind and continuously push through the hard times to get to the top.”

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