3 Eagles Reach EIWA Finals, Team in 3rd After Day 1

Steve Fittery
Steve Fittery

The No. 8 American University wrestling team will send a record three Eagles to the finals of the 107th EIWA Championships while a total of seven remain alive in the tournament. Wrestling will resume Sunday, March 6 in Lewisburg, Pa. beginning at 10 a.m.

#1 Steve Fittery, #2 Ryan Flores and #3 Matt Mariacher will each wrestle in the finals for American, marking the first time three Eagles have made the championship round. Both Fittery and Mariacher will be making their first appearance in the finals while Flores will be making his third. The junior won the 2009 EIWA Championship while wrestling for Columbia University after placing second as a freshman.

Fittery placed third at last year's tournament while Mariacher placed sixth in 2009. By advancing to the finals, each of the three have earned an automatic berth to the 2011 NCAA Championships.

Also alive for the Eagles are #3 Ganbayar Sanjaa, #3 Daniel Mitchell, #6 Patrick Graham and #7 Nick Arujau. Sanjaa, Mitchell and Graham will be competing in the consolation semifinals beginning tomorrow morning and can still place as high as third. Arujau, meanwhile, will wrestle for seventh place.

American is currently in third place of the team standings with 84 points. Cornell leads the field with 146 points while Lehigh sits in second with 105. The Eagles have a slight advantage over fourth-place Rutgers (83 pts.) and fifth-place Penn (80.5 pts.). Should the standings hold, American's third-place finish would set another program record, besting last year's fifth-place performance.

Check back at AUeagles.com throughout the day tomorrow for updates on all the action or follow @AU_Wrestling on Twitter to receive updates from matside on your phone.

125 – #7 Nick Arujau 
Arujau fell to Army's David White 2-0 in his first bout of the day. He was quick to bounce back in the consolation bracket, however, scoring a takedown off the opening whistle versus eighth-seeded Mitch Berger from Lehigh. Arujau added two sets of back points for a 6-0 lead after the first period and held the same margin heading into the third. Berger recorded an escape and takedown in the final period, but with riding time advantage Arujau was able to advance by a final score of 7-3. In the consolation quarterfinals, Arujau held a 2-0 lead over Harvard's Steven Keith, the fifth seed, but ultimately fell to the Crimson 6-3. He will return to the mat during tomorrow's morning session against Rutgers' Joseph Langel who is seeded sixth in the seventh-place match.

133 – Kevin Tao
Tao took an early 2-0 lead over Navy's Allen Stein and improved to 5-0 in the second with an escape and takedown. Stein made it a 5-1 match early in the third and scored a takedown late but it was not enough as Tao took the decision by a final of 6-3. The sophomore was bumped from title contention, however, when top-seeded Mike Grey from Cornell pinned him at the 4:49 mark of his second bout. Tao then met Harvard's Shay Warren in the wrestlebacks and lost a 7-2 decision to end his tournament.

141 - #3 Matt Mariacher
Mariacher received a bye in the first round and opened his tournament against sixth-seeded Manson Hicks from Cornell in the second round. Mariacher was first to score with a takedown but a pair of Manson escapes evened the match at two heading into the third period. Mariacher scored an escape of his own in the final period, however, to record the 3-2 decision. The junior was aggressive early in his semifinal bout versus Penn's Zack Kemmerer, the No. 2 seed, and scored a takedown for a 2-0 lead. Kemmerer brought the score to 2-1 before the period ended but Mariacher was able to ride the Quaker out for the duration of the second period to rack up over three minutes or riding time. The riding-time advantage proved to be the difference in the end as Mariacher advanced to the finals with a 3-2 decision. He will face fifth-seeded Casey Thome from Army tomorrow night as he goes for his first EIWA Championship.

149 - #3 Ganbayar Sanjaa
Sanjaa also received a bye in the first round and faced Columbia's Steve Santos, the sixth seed, in the second round. The junior held a 4-2 lead after the first period before an escape by Santos made it a one-point match heading into the third. It remained a one-point affair until a late takedown by Sanjaa moved the score to 5-3, and with riding time advantage he earned the 6-3 decision. Sanjaa's championship hopes were cut short in the semifinals though, as his 2-0 first-period lead was negated with a pair of escapes by second-seeded Kevin LeValley of Bucknell. The two remained tied at two into overtime and then into tiebreakers, where LeValley earned an escape for a 3-2 win. Sanjaa will now move on to tomorrow's consolation semifinals where he will meet Joseph Napoli of Lehigh, the fourth seed.

157 - #1 Steve Fittery
Fittery was dominant in his opening bout against James Rafferty from Army, taking an 8-1 lead after the fist period with two takedowns and two sets of back points. He improved his standing to 14-1 after the second and led 17-1 in the third before pinning Rafferty to the mat at the 5:39 mark. The senior returned in the second round against Lehigh's Sean Bilodeau, the eighth seed, and held a commanding 6-1 lead after the second period. Fittery added an escape and two takedowns in the third, and with riding time advantage won by major decision, 12-3. Fittery then earned a place in tomorrow's finals with a 3-0 victory over Rutger's Daryl Cocozzo, the tournament's fourth seed. Fittery scored first with a reversal in the second and added riding time advantage for the final margin. Fittery will now be matched with Navy's Bryce Saddoris, the second seed, with an EIWA title on the line.

165 - #6 Patrick Graham
Graham started quickly, scoring five takedowns in the first two periods of his opening match versus Franklin & Marshall's Anthony Bongarzone. Graham would score four more takedowns in the third, and coupled with an escape and riding time advantage took the bout by major decision, 20-6. Graham returned to take on third-seeded Scott Winston of Rutgers in what proved to be one of the most exciting matches of the morning session. The two went scoreless into the second before Winston was able to take a 1-0 lead with an escape. Graham evened the score at one with an escape of his own in the third, sending the bout into overtime. Neither wrestler was able to score in the sudden victory overtime period and in the ride out Graham appeared to have taken a 2-1 lead with a late escape. The official's call was overturned, however, and an escape by Winston in the second ride out gave the Scarlet Knight a 2-1 victory. Graham was impressive in his opening bout in the consolation bracket, turning a 5-0 first period lead over Brown's Dave Foxen into a 13-0 lead heading into the third. The sophomore stopped the clock at the 5:20 mark with his fourth takedown of the match and earned the technical fall by a score of 15-0. Graham continued his march through the consolation bracket with a 6-3 win over seventh-seeded Corey Lear from Bucknell, and will meet top-seeded Brandon Hatchett of Lehigh in the consolation semifinals tomorrow.

174 – Tanner Shaffer
Shaffer put up a good fight against eighth-seeded Collin Wittmeyer from Army, taking an early 2-0 lead over the Black Knight, but ultimately lost his opening match by decision, 7-2. Shaffer was forced to default out of his next match due to injury, ending his tournament run.

184 – Thomas Barreiro
Barreiro ran into top-seeded Robert Hamlin from Lehigh in his opening bout and lost by major decision, 16-6. The sophomore returned in the wrestlebacks against Bucknell's Rob Waltko, seeded seventh, and lost a 14-6 major decision to bring his tournament to a close.

197 - #3 Daniel Mitchell
Mitchell took a 2-0 lead over Brandon Schull of Brown into the third period and moved the score to 3-0 with an early escape. A single leg gave Mitchell a 5-0 margin and with riding time advantage he took the decision by a score of 6-0. Mitchell was pitted against Rutgers' Michael Wagner in his second match, the sixth seed. Wagner was first to get on the board with an escape in the second period but Mitchell quickly evened the score with an escape of his own in the third. Wagner would go on to take a 3-1 lead before a Mitchell escape brought the score to 3-2. Mitchell was unable to finish his shot as time wound down, however, giving Wagner the victory. Mitchell came back strong in the consolation bracket and scored three takedowns and one set of back points for a 10-0 major decision over Princeton's Daniel Santoro. In the consolation quarterfinals, Mitchell held a 2-0 advantage over seventh-seeded Peter Huntley from Navy, but an escape and penalty against Mitchell evened the score at two. Mitchell would go on top 5-3 in the second, however, with an escape of his own and takedown and tacked on a third takedown and riding time advantage for an 8-4 victory. The sophomore will return to the mat in the consolation semifinals tomorrow against fourth-seeded Joseph Kennedy from Lehigh.

HWT - #2 Ryan Flores
Flores took down Army's Christian Botero just over 30 seconds into his opening match and ended the bout at the 1:20 mark with a pinfall. Flores later advanced to the semifinals when seventh-seeded Stryker Lane from Cornell was forced to default due to injury. The junior was met by Rutgers' Dominic Russo, seeded third, in the semis where he quickly scored a takedown for a 2-0 lead in the first. Russo moved the score to 2-1 with an escape in the second before a Flores escape in the third made the match 3-1. Flores would add a takedown late and walked away with a 5-2 win to advance to the finals. He will take on top-seeded Zach Rey from Lehigh in the finals in search of his second career EIWA championship.