MANHATTAN, N.Y. – On a night when Columbia University honored its senior class, it was easy to see the future looks bright for the Lions on the wrestling mat.
Columbia swept a pair of conference duals by defeating Harvard 27-3 and blanking Brown 37-0 on Feb. 11 at Levien Gym.
The Lions are now 2-3 in Ivy League action this season after the sweep and improved to 4-5 in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA). The two wins improved Columbia to 4-8 on the season.
“We are as good of a team as we want to be,” Columbia coach Zach Tanelli said. “It wasn’t pretty at times. We wrestled two tough teams, so we had to execute our game plan … but in the end we took care of things when we needed to in order to get the job done.”
The pair of wins put an end to the home portion of the schedule for the Lions.
Columbia closes the regular season by traveling to Maryland (Feb. 18) and Rutgers (Feb. 19). The EIWA tournament is scheduled for March 5-6 at Cornell.
“This was a great night,” Tanelli said following the sweep of the Crimson and Bears, “but we have to turn the page and begin to look to next week.
The duals against the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights, who both compete in the Big Ten, will challenge the Lions. But, it’s part of Tanelli’s plan at Columbia.
“If you look at the results of our duals against Michigan and Oklahoma State, it’s easy to feel bad for us,” Tanelli said. “But we are doing these things for a reason. We are trying to build our program by competing against those top programs and that’s going to put us in a position to compete for championships.”
Columbia lost to Michigan 34-3 in the opening dual of the season at home and lost at Oklahoma State 35-6 in January.
COLUMBIA 27, HARVARD 3
The Lions stormed to a commanding 25-0 lead over the Crimson.
But it was anything but easy.
Columbia won each of the first eight matches in building that insurmountable advantage. But five of those triumphs came by three points or less.
Brian Bonino got things started for the Lions when he took the mat against Harvard’s Luke Rada to begin the dual.
Bonino was the aggressor from the opening whistle and quickly got in on his Crimson counterpart, but was unable to complete his attempt at a single-leg as Rada fought off all attempts. The first period ended scoreless between the two teams.
Rada grabbed the first lead of the match with a quick escape to begin the second period and Bonino tied the match with an escape of his own early in the final period and setting the stage for a dramatic finish.
Rada again fought off a takedown attempt by Bonino in the closing seconds of regulation near the edge of the mat. Rada was credited with a takedown of his own just ahead of the buzzer. A review negated the takedown to force sudden victory.
There Bonino wasted little time in pushing the action and secured the winning takedown just 32 seconds into the extra session.
Columbia’s Danny Fongaro picked up the only bonus-point victory of the night for the Lions when he scored seven points in the second period to erase a scoreless opening frame to take the lead over Michael Jaffe at 149 pounds. He added a takedown in the final period and was awarded a point when Jaffe was whistled for stalling and tacked on riding to post an 11-0 major decision.
Harvard’s lone win came at 165 pounds when Phillip Conigliaro got past Joshua Ogunsanya 5-3 by answering each of Ogunsanya’s attempts at a late rally after closing to within 5-3 with 1:46 left in regulation.
“We’re still finding ourselves as a team,” Harvard coach Jay Weiss said after watching his team fall to 0-4 in the Ivy League and 1-5 in the EIWA and overall with the loss. “We’ve got some talent and we saw glimpses of that tonight … but we have to do a much better job of keeping the pressure on our opponents throughout the match.”
184: Brian Bonino (Columbia) dec. Luke Rada (Harvard), 3-1 (SV).
197: Sam Wustefeld (Columbia) dec. Nick Marcenelle (Harvard), 3-0.
286: Danny Conley (Columbia) dec. Jeffrey Crooks (Harvard), 9-2.
125: Joe Manchio (Columba) dec. Beau Bayless (Harvard), 3-2.
133: Angelo Rini (Columbia) dec. Dillon Murphy (Harvard), 6-3.
141: Matt Kazimir (Columbia) dec. Michael Jaffe (Harvard), 2-0.
149: Danny Fongaro (Columbia) major decision Lukus Stricker (Harvard), 11-0.
157: Andrew Garr (Columbia) dec. Trevor Tarsi (Harvard), 4-2.
165: Phillip Conigliaro (Harvard) dec. Joshua Ogunsanya (Columbia), 5-3.
174: Nick Fine (Columbia) dec. Joshua Kim (Harvard), 7-5.
NOTE – Columbia deducted one team point for unsportsmanlike conduct following the 174-pound match.
COLUMBIA 37, BROWN 0
Columbia continued its impressive performance in the final home dual of the season by picking up a major decision by Angelo Rini at 133 pounds and taking advantage of forfeits by Brown at the final two bouts of the night en route to a 37-0 blanking of the Bears.
Rini picked up a takedown in the first period to grab the early lead and set the tone that would prevail throughout his match against Nick Cabinillas. He tacked on a reversal and another takedown in the second period to lead 6-1 heading into the final two minutes. Two additional takedowns in the final period, along with riding-time advantage accounted for the 11-3 final score.
Josh Ongunsanya and Nick Fine were both awarded forfeits at 165 and 174 pounds, respectively, for the Lions.
Brown fell to 0-4 in the Ivy League and 1-6 in the EIWA with the loss. The Bears are 2-8 overall this season.
184: Brian Bonino (Columbia) dec. James Araneo (Brown), 8-6.
197: Sam Wustefeld (Columbia) dec. Cade Wilson (Brown), 5-1.
285: Danny Conley (Columba) dec. Lear Quinton (Brown), 6-0.
125: Joe Manchio (Columbia) dec. Hunter Adrian (Brown), 3-1.
133: Angelo Rini (Columbia) major decision Nick Cabinillas (Brown), 11-3.
141: Kenny Duchek (Columbia) dec. Tim Levine (Brown), 6-2.
149: Danny Fongaro (Columbia) dec. Blake Saito (Brown), 7-2.
157: Andrew Garr (Columbia) dec. A.J. Corrado (Brown), 9-3.
165: Josh Ogunsanya (Columbia) won by forfeit.
174: Nick Fine (Columbia) won by forfeit.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.