Senior heavyweight’s clutch win brings the victory home for the Bison

Roger Mellado, Contributing Writer

On Feb. 22, the Bison wrestlers wrapped up their dual meet season with an epic come-from-behind victory against Columbia on the back of their heavyweight wrestler, senior Brandon Stokes. Along with Stokes, the Bison had a number of strong performances from other members of the herd that helped them achieve this victory. With this last win, the Bison finished their season well above five hundred at 10-6, and with an even more impressive 9-4 in conference action.

The day started out with three close losses for the Bison at 125, 133 and 141 pounds consecutively, making the score to begin the meet 9-0. The first win of the day came from Matthew Kolonia ’21 at 149lbs. He brought home a tight decision over Columbia, 8-7. Following Kolonia, freshman Jaden Fisher had another impressive performance, cruising to an 8-2 decision at 157lbs.

The next two wins came from the Hartman brothers. Sophomore Zach Hartman, who is currently the 15th ranked wrestler in the nation at 165lbs, won in a close 4-2 battle. His senior brother Mitch Hartman followed him at 174lbs and brought in a win of his own for the Bison (5-3). Following their four-match win streak, the score stood at 12-9 in favor of the Bison.

After losing the next match, senior captain Drew Phipps brought in a clutch win for the Bison at 197lbs, beating Columbia 5-1. With this win, Phipps broke his regular-season win record from last year (26) and brought his overall record in dual meets to 14-2.

With Phipp’s win, the Bison held a one-point lead (15-14) heading into the final match of the day. With his team’s victory on the line, senior Brandon Stokes made his way towards the mat.

The bout remained scoreless through the first period. With his opponent choosing the bottom position clearly looking to take the lead by escaping and earning a point, Stokes managed to crush this hope by riding him out for the entire period and adding the riding time point to his scorecard to make it 1-0 heading into the third. With roles reversed to begin the third period, Brandon Stokes exploded up and out-earning another point for his escape. Stokes finished the match 2-0, bringing home an electric win on the day for his team, making the final score 18-14 in favor of the Bison.

“The coaches told us the match was going to be a close one during practices that week and I thought we were better than Columbia up and down the line-up so I really didn’t think too much about it. But once the match got started and we went down 9-0 after 141, I knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Stokes said. “I try to put the team first, which is how I ended up at Heavyweight in the first place, so this meant a lot for me, especially with it being our 10th dual meet win of the year. I don’t know if anything will be able to reciprocate that feeling, especially getting hoisted up by some of the guys coming off the mat, that was pretty cool.”

Next up for the Bison is the EIWA Championships in Bethlehem, Pa. on March 6 and March 7.

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