Bruised not broken, Bison wrestling sets their sights set on redemption

Roger Mellado, Contributing Writer

The Bison wrestling team had a tough weekend on the mat, taking on two of the Nation’s Top 20 ranked teams, Lehigh (11th) on Friday, Feb. 14 and Army (18th) on Feb. 16. Although disappointing, the team’s fighting spirit was never stifled. Several Bison had impressive performances and brought home victories for their team.

The Bison lost to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks in what was an electric environment at Davis Gym this past Friday evening. This was the unfortunate end of the Orange and Blue’s undefeated home record, which resides at 6-1 after this match. The evening was highlighted by two Bison wins and a number of strong performances against a stacked Lehigh starting lineup, which included nationally ranked grapplers at almost every single weight class.

Brandon Seidman ’22 put on an impressive show at 125lbs, going toe-to-toe with Lehigh’s Brandon Paetzel, who was ranked 5th in the nation going into the match. Seidman eventually fell to Paetzel 9-4.

Jaden Fisher ’23, had a battle of his own at 157lbs, taking on Josh Humphreys, who was ranked 8th in the country at the time. Eventually, the experienced Mountain Hawk got the better of Fisher and won the match 9-3.

The day’s pair of wins came from Darren Miller ’23 at 133lbs and the Bison’s nationally-ranked Zach Hartman ’22 at 165lbs. Both wrestlers won close victories in the third period with well-timed takedowns. Miller finished the match 6-4 and Hartman won 3-2. This win kept Hartman’s dual meet record unblemished at 12-0.

The following Sunday, the Bison honored seniors Jarek Gozdieski, Mitch Hartman, Garrett Hoffman, Kyle Inlander, Erik Lukner, Drew Phipps and Brandon Stokes prior to taking on the nationally-ranked Black Knights of Army West Point.

The Bison had another frustrating day, bringing home only two wins. But remaining true to their core values, they never stopped fighting.

Matt Kolonia ’21 brought in the only major decision of the weekend for the Bison at 149lbs beating his opponent 15-3. After Kolonia came a win from the Bison Captain, senior Drew Phipps at 197lbs. Phipps defeated Brown, who was seeded seven spots higher in the national rankings, 6-4. This brought Phipp’s already impressive win count to 25 on the season.

The talented Zach Hartman suffered his first loss of the season to fellow nationally-ranked wrestler McCormick (21st). McCormick barely edged out Hartman in a 2-1 decision.

Three more Bison displayed impressive grit while battling on the mat. Miller at 133lbs and David Campbell ’21 at 141lbs both suffered heartbreaking losses by a single point (3-2 and 8-7, respectively). Meanwhile, Jaden Fisher continued his impressive freshman campaign, keeping the fight interesting with Army’s 11th ranked grappler Markus Hartman at 157lbs.

“Personally I feel like I wrestled well. I had two guys ranked ahead of me and I was able to beat one of them and wrestle the other one pretty tough. Overall, I was proud of us as a team. Even though we lost, we fought really hard and won a few matches that we should have lost on paper. The main takeaway from these duals is that there are small things we need to work on before the EIWA tournament comes up. Luckily, we were able to figure out what some of our imperfections were this weekend, so we have time to fix them before the tournament,” Phipps said.

The Bison now hold a 9-6 record overall on the season and an 8-3 record in the EIWA. The wrestling Bison will be back on the mat this Saturday, Feb. 22, in NYC as they take on the Columbia Lions to close out their dual meet season.

Phipps is looking forward to competing in the dual at Columbia. “As a team, we expect to go in and win this dual at Columbia. We are definitely favored to win and we just need to wrestle our best and push the pace, and the results will take care of themself. Personally, I am hoping to continue to improve on my hand fighting and get to more shots against the Columbia guy.  Heading into EIWAs we expect to make a statement and place at least in the top 5 five as a team, if not even the top three. We’re looking to take four to six people to nationals this year which would be a great showing for us,” he said.

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