LEWISBURG, Pa. – For the fourth time in the last five duals Bucknell wrestling 285-pounder Joe Stolfi took to the mat with a chance to tie the score or put the Bison ahead and for the fourth time during that stretch he succeeded Friday evening in a 21-18 victory over American in Davis Gym. The junior defeated Blake Herrin by a 5-0 score to break an 18-18 deadlock and help Bucknell improve to 6-8 overall this season and 3-2 opposite EIWA competition.
Stolfi, who is ranked 20th nationally and improved to 22-6 on the year, recorded pins to lift the Bison to home victories over Brown and Clarion two weeks ago. Last Friday his pin evened the score at Columbia and he continued the clutch performances against American and Herrin as he won his seventh consecutive bout.
In contrast to most of Stolfi’s bout this year, Friday’s went the full seven minutes. It was scoreless through two periods with Stolfi having a two-minute riding time advantage. He chose down to begin the third period and earned an immediate escape. Less than a minute later he scored a takedown that gave him a 3-0 advantage over a struggling Herrin, who was whistled for stalling to make the score 4-0. The riding time point lifted Stolfi to the 5-0 win and the Bison to their third home win of the season in five tries.
“We are always confident when the match comes down to him,” said Bison head coach Dan Wirnsberger about Stolfi. “His preparation is spot-on and he is a tough, gritty competitor.”
Bucknell and American (6-6, 4-4 EIWA) alternated wins and losses over the first seven bouts in the match. The Bison held a 12-9 lead at that point thanks to an injury default by the Eagles at 165 pounds. A pin by American’s Jason Grimes at 184 lifted the Eagles ahead by an 18-12 margin, but a second injury default at 197 by nationally ranked Daniel Mitchell and Stolfi’s decision brought Bucknell back ahead.
Freshman Grim Gonzalez earned the first win of the day for the Bison at 133 pounds. The score was tied 1-1 entering the final 30 seconds of the bout and he responded with the first takedown in the match. A late escape by Esteban Gomez-Rivera closed the final gap to 3-2.
“We still have some work to do at some weight classes and we’re excited about others,” mentioned Wirnsberger. “While Stolfi won the deciding bout, Grim Gonzalez was probably the MVP of this match. He beat a tough opponent and has continued to improve every week.”
Fellow freshman Victor Lopez earned the second win of the day for Bucknell. He led Mark Cirello 6-2 after two periods and added a reversal and more than two minutes of riding time for a 9-5 victory for his third consecutive win.
Rustin Barrick (165) and Tyler Lyster (197) each earned six points toward the Bison team score thanks to injuries by their opponents. Barrick held a commanding 12-3 lead with just over 30 seconds left in his bout when Cristian Masaya was forced to withdraw, while Lyster was ahead 3-2 when Mitchell conceded to injury.
Bucknell, which equaled its win total from all of 2012-13, snapped a three-match losing streak against American. The Bison now hold a 19-4-1 edge in the all-time series.
Friday’s match was the first of a busy weekend for Bucknell, which wrestles at George Mason (9 a.m.) and No. 13 Virginia (2 p.m.) on Sunday.
Bucknell 21, American 18
125: No. 8 David Terao (A) dec. Paul Petrov (B), 8-3.
133: Grim Gonzalez (B) dec. Esteban Gomez-Rivera (A), 3-2.
141: Spencer Slishman (A) dec. Connor Lapresi (B), 3-2.
149: Victor Lopez (B) dec. Mark Cirello (A), 9-5.
157: John Boyle (A) dec. Ray Schlitt (B), 8-3.
165: Rustin Barrick (B) injury default Crisitan Masaya (A), 6:25.
174: Keithen Cast (A) dec. Joey Krulock (B), 9-2.
184: Jason Grimes (A) pinned Rory Bonner (B), 1:42.
197: Tyler Lyster (B) injury default No. 10 Daniel Mitchell (A), 4:28.
285: No. 20 Joe Stolfi (B) dec. Blake Herrin (A), 5-0.