Wrestling: Princeton drops opening duals of season
The wrestling team struggled against a stacked field at the Journeyman/ASICS Northeast Duals on Saturday in Troy, N.Y., as Princeton lost its three matches of the day. In their first head-to-head team competition of the year, the Tigers fell to No. 5 Illinois, Bloomsburg and No. 23 Purdue.
The final tallies in the competitions were 46-0, 31-10 and 37-6, respectively. Both Illinois and Purdue featured lineups with multiple nationally-ranked wrestlers, and Bloomsburg entered the day with a 3-1 record.
Despite the team losses, there were individual bright spots for the Tigers. Junior Ryan Callahan, competing for the first time this season, won two of his three matches in the 174-pound class. Callahan, who spent the first two weeks of the season recovering from lingering injuries, lost to Illinois’s All-America Jordan Blanton in his first match of the day, before rallying to win his matches against Bloomsburg’s Kevin Hartnett and Purdue’s Doug Welch. Callahan was limited by injuries last year, but looked healthy on Saturday and figures to be a key component of the young Tiger squad.
Injuries were the story of the day for Princeton. The Tigers, already missing two projected starters and reeling from injuries in the heavier weight classes, were forced to forfeit five of their six matches at 197 and 285. Senior Charles Fox started the day at 285 but was forced to withdraw after sustaining an injury in his Illinois match. Without a replacement for Fox, the Tigers forfeited the rest of their 285 matches. The Tigers didn’t field anyone at 197 all day.
Princeton also lost its starter at 133, senior Garrett Frey. Frey is coming off a stellar junior season in which he became only the seventh Princeton wrestler to reach three NCAA tournaments and recorded his second career win in an NCAA tournament match.
Filling in for Frey, senior Andrew Hirai performed admirably. Hirai won his match against Bloomsburg’s Elliot Zackoski before falling to Purdue’s Cashe Quiroga.
Other individual wins for the Tigers came from senior co-captain Zach Bintliff (149 pounds) and freshman Scott Gibbons (184 pounds). Bintliff, who won his match against Purdue’s Frankie Porras, registered his sixth win of the season, while Gibbons continued his hot streak by beating Bloomsburg’s Andre Petroski.
Gibbons has been Princeton’s most consistent performer over the first three weeks of the season. He was the only Tiger to place at the team’s first two tournaments and currently leads the team with 10 victories on the season. Bintliff has also started strong, winning six matches in the season’s first three weeks.
Gibbons also spearheads a talented freshman class, which wrestled in nine of the team’s 30 matches on Saturday. The team will rely heavily on contributions from the freshman class, which is represented in nearly every weight class.
The Tigers will look to convalesce over the coming weeks as they continue dual matches and tune up before the Ivy League season begins in mid-January. Despite the team’s youth, they will look to improve upon back-to-back one-win Ivy League seasons. Between now and then, Princeton will look to focus on gaining valuable experience and health. With the Fox’s injury, the Tigers find themselves very thin in the heavier weight classes.
Princeton will hit the mat on Saturday at 1 p.m. when it takes on Rider in Lawrenceville, N.J.
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