Justin Lockowitz/”The Voice” sports editor
The Bloomsburg University wrestling team must have had a feeling of déjà vu as they hosted the West Virginia Mountaineers during the last weekend of January, falling to them by a score of 19-16. The EWL match had a similar feel to a year ago, when the Huskies won the first three bouts of the night, before dropping six of the last seven, which was again the case this year.
The Huskies (5-6, 0-2) held a 16-7 lead before the Mountaineers (5-4, 2-0) stormed back to tie the match, and in the final bout claimed the victory.
The night got underway when Bloom’s Ian Moser met West Virginia’s Tyler Smith in the 125 pound match. Moser used two takedowns and three back points to claim a 7-1 lead heading into the second period. Moser, who started the period from the bottom position, escaped within the first five seconds of the period and earned another takedown. With his dominance from the neutral position established, Moser began giving Smith escapes and picking up takedowns. By the time the second period was over Moser’s lead was 16-4, and Smith could do little to stop Moser from picking up the technical fall by a score of 23-7.
In the next match BU’s Jason Guffey faced off against Tyler Oravec. Guffey almost picked up a takedown on the edge in the first, but neither wrestler was able to score points. Guffey was able to earn an escape in the second, while Oravec did the same in the third, and the match came down to the final minute, when Guffey was able to pick up a takedown. Oravec found a way to escape with a few seconds remaining, but Guffey was able to hold him off for the 3-2 win.
In the 141-pound contest Rick Donald did battle with WV’s Colin Johnston. Donald led 3-1 heading into the third period, where Johnston was able to escape, and then score a takedown with less than 10 seconds on the clock, taking a 4-3 lead, but Donald’s point for riding time sent the match into overtime. In the extra session Donald was able to get in deep on a shot and convert for the 6-4 win, putting the team up by a score of 11-0.
The next match featured the Huskies’ George Hickman and #19 David Jauregui. There was some intense hand fighting in the first period, but no points. Hickman picked up an escape in the second, as did Jauregui in the third, and Hickman was able to get in on an ankle late in the third, but could not finish. The match headed into overtime when Hickman was again able to get in, but not finish. Both wrestlers traded escapes in the second overtime, and in the third Jauregui was able to convert a quick shot for the deciding two points, winning 4-2.
The Huskies would respond as #10 Matt Moley dominated Mark Tsikerdanos, winning 17-2 and giving Bloom their second technical fall of the night. Moley was able to use an assortment of takedowns and back points to earn the lopsided victory.
The ensuing match featured #19 Ricky Schmelyun against the Mountaineers’ Donnie Jones. While Schmelyun appeared to have a size advantage, Jones used his quickness to push the pace and score three takedowns in the first two periods and build a 6-1 lead. In the third Jones used an immediate reversal, and combined with his riding time was able to earn a major decision by a score of 9-1, cutting Bloomsburg’s lead to 16-7.
The next bout saw Nate Graham square off against WV’s #12 Kurt Brenner. The two were unable to decide on a winner through the first seven minutes, so they went to overtime. Graham got in on an ankle in the extra frame, but could not convert, so the two headed to double overtime. Graham was unable to escape from the bottom position, while Brenner picked up a stalling point in his half of the session, earning the 2-1 decision.
With the Mountaineers gaining momentum, BU’s Brian Shaw met Lance Bryson. Bryson was able to work for a 4-2 lead heading into the third period, when he picked up an escape and a takedown to earn the 7-3 decision. In the 197-pound match Jesse Hasseman was almost pinned in the first period by WV’s Kyle Rooney. Hasseman was able to fight off his back, but was never able to recover from the early deficit, losing 9-6.
In the finale, and with the score of the match now tied at 16 points apiece, BU’s Zach Walsh met Dustin Rogers. Walsh was able to keep the match close through two periods, as he was only down by a score of 2-0, but Rogers added six points in the final period en route to an 8-1 decision and a heart-breaking loss for the Huskies.
The team was no doubt disappointed and upset after the match, but they wrestled hard. Coach Stutzman felt that the team “had opportunities to win, we just need to close them out.” The Huskies continue to keep their heads up as they work to make improvements. Coach Stutzman thinks that the team needs to improve most on their “confidence and attitude, because they go hand-in-hand.”
Hickman added, “I think everyone is staying positive, just trying to move forward and close the season out wrestling tough.”
The team looks to respond coming off of a tough loss and feels that they are capable of doing so. Moley stated, “Coach has been stressing, especially to the upper weights, that we need to have more confidence, and need to believe, really believe that every time we step on the mat we are going to win. Because for some I think that is the only thing that is holding them back right now.” If the team can adopt this mindset, I have no doubts that they will finish the season strong.