LEWISBURG, Pa. – Nick Stephani was selected as the Bison Athlete of the Week for his role in the wrestling team's 20-16 victory over Pitt on Sunday, Dec. 17.
At 174 pounds, Stephani defeated Austin Bell by an 8-5 decision to give Bucknell a 14-10 advantage. Assistant coach Jim Gibson praised the junior for his leadership during and leading up to the match, which was the Bison's fourth against a team ranked in the USA Today/NWCA Coaches preseason poll.
Entering the third period, Stephani led Bell, 6-4. After ceding an early escape, he fought off a takedown with less than 30 seconds remaining to defend his one-point lead. Then, at the buzzer, he scored a takedown to defeat Bell and earn Bucknell a hard-fought three points.
Stephani's victory was the Bison's fourth in a stretch where they took six of seven bouts from the Panthers, who had fallen out of the USA Today/NWCA Coaches rankings right before their dual.
Pitt won the first three meetings between the teams, including the most recent during the 2014-15 campaign. The Panthers were slotted No. 24 in the 2017 USA Today/NWCA Coaches preseason poll.
Stephani is the first Bison wrestler to capture Bison Athlete of the Week accolades since Paul Petrov was recognized on Dec. 7, 2015 after placing fifth in the 125-pound weight class at the Cliff Keen Invitational.
Stephani and the Bison return to action on Sunday, Jan. 7 when they take on Navy in Annapolis, Md. at 2 p.m.