Hill wins first EWL in home opener

Category:  Sports
Thursday, January 24th, 2019 at 12:17 PM
Hill wins first EWL in home opener by Chris Rosato Jr.
Photo: Ben McCullough

After mixed success over winter break, the Edinboro wrestling team gave rookie head coach Matt Hill his first Eastern Wrestling League dual victory Friday after downing Cleveland State University, 24-13.

The two squads split the first four matches, but the Fighting Scots ran the board for the final five bouts, including two major decisions, to boost Edinboro’s conference record to 1-2, along with a 2-5 overall mark. Cleveland State fell to 3-6 overall and 0-3 in the EWL.

Hill stressed that his team still has progress to make, but took a moment to appreciate his first dual win.

“It feels good,” he said. “We have been through a lot this year, and [we’re] just trying to figure out how to get wins out of these guys, and a lot of them are starting to believe in themselves.”

The crowd inside McComb were treated to a hot match at 125 pounds to start the night, which saw Lucas Rodriguez earn Edinboro’s first points with a 9-2 decision over Cameron Lathem.

Both men struggled to score early, with the match tied 2-2 as late as halfway through the second period. Rodriguez then earned a takedown and 4 near-fall points in the closing seconds of the third period. A bonus point for riding time added to Rodriguez’s lead.

Redshirt sophomore Richie Gomez fell to Armando Torres, 14-1, at 133 pounds, before Erie native Carmine Ciotti put Edinboro back on top with a 17-4 major decision victory over Sam Matzek.

Cleveland State then won the next two matches in what would be their final wins of the night. At 149 pounds, Brady Barnett was cruising against Christopher Matzke before earning a pin halfway through the second period. Edinboro’s Tim Suter earned just 1 escape point against the Vikings’ Nico O’Dor in the 157-pound matchup, conceding the 6-1 decision to O’Dor.

What followed was a string of victories for Edinboro that saw the Fighting Scots win by at least 3 points each time out.

The 165-pound matchup saw Fritz Hoehn and Cleveland’s Ryan Ford circle each other for a scoreless first period. Ford elected to begin the second in the down position and quickly earned an escape point, but Hoehn followed with a takedown to go up 2-1. Ford then earned 2 points for a reversal, followed by Hoehn tying the match up with an escape. 

Hoehn finally broke open the match with a takedown and 4 near-fall points in the final seconds of the second period to take a 10-3 lead. He added an escape point in the beginning of the third to build on his lead before Ford earned an escape of his own, bringing the final score to 11-4.

Redshirt freshman Jacob Oliver used four takedowns and nearly three minutes of riding time en route to a 15-2 major decision victory at 174 pounds over Dimitri Williams. Sophomore Zach Ancewicz followed with an 8-5 decision over Chris Morrow at 184 pounds.

In the 197-pound contest, Edinboro’s Dylan Reynolds got out to a quick 2-0 lead over Ben Smith following a takedown. He then racked up 1:12 of riding time before Smith could escape. The score remained unchanged until the second period, which Reynolds began with an escape from the bottom position after Smith lost his grip around Reynolds’ torso. He added a takedown and benefited from his riding time surplus to give him a 6-3 decision following two escapes by Smith.

Reynolds said the team has been meshing well under the new coaching regime — including Hill and his assistants Matt DePalma and Pat Bradshaw. This group took over following longtime Head Coach Tim Flynn’s departure for West Virginia University after last season.

“It’s a fresh start. All the new coaches, we get along great. They are nice guys,” Reynolds said. “They really know what we are doing. We are on the same page. It’s just different.”

With the meet still within reach for Cleveland State, Edinboro sophomore Jon Spaulding took on Collin Kelly at heavyweight in a rematch from the previous dual meet between the two teams. Spaulding said he didn’t approach the meet-clinching match any differently.

“I’m just going to go out there and do what I need to do, and not really focus on the end results because that will take care of itself,” he said. “You go out there with a mindset to score points and do whatever you can to make that guy tired. And just the results will handle themselves.”

Spaulding followed up a 12-4 victory last time out with a 12-3 major decision over Kelly to seal Edinboro’s first conference victory of the season. Spaulding out-maneuvered Kelly in the match, scoring first by countering a double-leg attempt with a takedown of his own. Kelly earned an escape point, but not before Spaulding earned 1:16 of riding time.

Spaulding then added three more takedowns to take a commanding lead over Kelly.

Edinboro stumbled in its first matches over winter break. Their first duals of December took place back-to-back as they hosted both the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Kent State University inside McComb Fieldhouse on Dec. 18.

With the matches beginning at 157 pounds, Edinboro jumped out to a 15-6 lead over the Mocs following decisive victories from Hoehn, Oliver, Reynolds and Spaulding. Hoehn earned a 16-0 technical fall in his first match back following an injury.

Going down his roster, Hill had plenty of glowing reviews for his middleweight contenders.

“Jacob Oliver is always going to go out and wrestle hard for you,” Hill said. “Fritz, the season is still very young and he’s still trying to get his shape underneath him, trying to get his body ready to wrestle. He is doing okay.”

Chattanooga then swept the final four matches, earning bonus points at 125 and 133 pounds, grabbing the come-from-behind 23-15 victory over the Fighting Scots.

Kent State, meanwhile, got out to an early lead that they would never relinquish as Edinboro failed to earn any bonus points in their four victories.

Oliver, Reynolds and Spaulding earned their second wins of the night. Joining them was Ciotti, who earned a sudden-death decision in one of the more exciting matches of the night. 

Nearing the conclusion of the third period, Ciotti led 4-3 and was controlling Kent State’s Cory Simpson when the referee awarded Simpson a point due to a technical violation (interlocking hands) by Ciotti. Simpson then earned an escape just before the buzzer to take a 1-point lead, but Ciotti’s riding time evened the score, warranting an extra period. Ciotti then managed to reverse a single-leg attempt into a takedown of his own, earning the win in the penultimate match of the night.

Hill said Ciotti, who is now 4-2 in dual matches, has been a stabilizing presence at 141 pounds, one of three weight classes that has seen more than one starter in the young dual season.

“Carmine [Ciotti] is progressing too and we are really happy to have him part of our program,” Hill said. “I rely on him to be a hammer and he is doing his job.”

The Fighting Scots next competed at the Southern Scuffle hosted by Chattanooga on Jan. 1-2, but Edinboro was not represented in the top five in any weight class after just Reynolds and Oliver earned bids to the second day.

Reynolds, who had the best Edinboro performance with a sixth-place performance at 197 pounds, said he enjoyed the opportunity that winter break afforded him to focus on his family and wrestling.

“Winter break was nice. [I] stayed here because I am from around here, so it’s nice to get to hang out with my family,” he said. “And just training. You’re out of school, so all we do is train. It’s nice because you don’t have to worry about school work or stuff; you just focus on wrestling.”

The squad opened EWL dual competition on the road when they visited Bloomsburg University and Rider University on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, respectively.

The Fighting Scots split their 10 matches with the Huskies, but Ciotti earned the only bonus points for Edinboro with a fall over Aaron Coleman, while Bloomsburg had two falls on the night to edge out a 21-19 win.

Rider had the larger advantage over Edinboro, sending the Scots home with a 25-11 loss. Oliver, Reynolds and Spaulding remained bright spots for ‘Boro after winning both of their matches over the weekend.

Spaulding said he has been enjoying the chance he was given following 2018 EWL Heavyweight Champion Billy Miller’s departure following last season.

“I think it’s a great opportunity, and I know I have got a lot more things that I need to learn just to progress in this sport,” Spaulding said.

Edinboro will travel to George Mason University Saturday before returning to McComb Fieldhouse Jan. 31. George Mason, who will host the EWL Championships March 9, is 6-4 overall and 2-2 in the EWL. The Fighting Scots will also host their annual Edinboro Open on Feb. 2.

Christopher Rosato Jr. | sports.spectator@gmail.com

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