COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Led by bracket victories from a veteran and a newcomer, the Castleton University wrestling team finished in second place Saturday at the Will Abele Invitational, hosted by Ursinus College at Floy Lewis Bakes Fieldhouse.
Senior captain Jared Costa earned four straight victories to win the 165-pound bracket, starting with a pin of Tristan Brady of Wheeling Jesuit 34 seconds into the third period. He did not allow a point the rest of the day, defeating Jordan Goins of Western New England on a technical fall (15-0), Ursinus's Zachary Goranson on a major decision (9-0), and Keegan Driscoll of Wheeling Jesuit in the bracket final, 2-0.
Abe Arsakhanov, a newcomer to the Spartan program after transferring in during the winter break, won the 184-pound bracket, pinning Nick Suk of Middlesex Community College three seconds into the third period, followed by a pin of Southern Virginia's Gordon Whitaker 1:59 into their match. In the semifinal, he defeated new teammate Mitchell LaFlam with a pin with 23 seconds remaining in the second period, leading to the bracket victory after UMBC's Brandon Buckingham took a medical forfeit.
LaFlam reached the 184-pound bracket semifinal after pinning Ryan Mortimer of Temple with 35 seconds left in the first period and defeating Trinity's Evan Frank on a decision, 9-4. LaFlam advanced to the third-place match when Suk was forced to an injury forfeit, but John Boyle won that match with a 5-2 decision, dropping LaFlam into fourth place.
Castleton's two hottest wrestlers reached the finals of their respective bracket before suffering a rare loss. At 197 pounds, Cedrick Stephens pinned Andrew Cole of Western New England 36 seconds into the second period and Temple's Ernie Tessein with 40 seconds remaining in the second period of their contest. In the bracket final, Stephens took an early 4-0 lead, but Ursinus's Deon Edmond used a takedown and a near-fall to rally for a 6-4 victory, ending Stephens's nine-match winning streak as he suffered just his second loss of the season.
In the heavyweight division, Jesse Webb pinned all three of his opponents leading to the bracket final in the first period, notching victories over Ruben Mendez of Southern Virginia, Seth Bloor of Wheeling Jesuit, and Devan Uzelak of Wheeling Jesuit. Facing Terrance Fanning of Wheeling Jesuit in the title match, Webb could not overcome his offense, losing on a major decision (12-4) to snap his nine-match winning streak and fall in a bracket final for the first time this season.
Also at 285 pounds, Nick Scott came close to a rematch with Webb from last week's Williams Open, advancing to the semifinals with three wins, starting with a pin over Farhan Kahn of Middlesex Community College with 21 seconds remaining in the match. After defeating Ryan Kidwell of Ursinus, 10-0, and Alex Brunner of Southern Virginia, 6-1, Scott was pinned by Fanning with eight seconds left in the second period. Scott advanced to the third-place match when his opponent reached his six-match tournament limit, but a medical forfeit forced Scott to settle for fourth place.
The six-match tournament limit hurt a Castleton wrestler, as Max Tempel advanced to the quarterfinals of the 149-pound bracket with technical fall wins over Temple's Dan Rodriguez (17-2) and UMBC's Ashar Nadeem (16-0). After losing in the quarterfinals, Temple won three matches in the wrestleback section, defeating Le Roy Brown of Ursinus (6-1), Tyler Brazinski of SUNY Oneonta (4-1), and Lamont Wallace of Western New England (11-0). However, the tournament limit prevented Tempel from competing in the third-place match, forcing him to take fourth place.
Three other Castleton wrestlers won three matches each during the day, as Nick Camacho at 133 pounds, Ben Billings at 141 pounds, and Peter Leite at 149 pounds all posted 3-2 records during the day. Camacho advanced to the consolation semifinals before losing, while Billings and Leite also won three matches in the wrestleback section of their brackets before falling in consolation round five.
As a team, Castleton finished in second place with 138.5 points, behind only tournament champion Wheeling Jesuit with 163 points. The Spartans finished ahead of SUNY Oneonta (125.5 points) and host Ursinus (90.5 points), as well as regional rivals Western New England and Trinity.
Castleton heads to Providence, R.I., next Sunday, Jan. 21, for the NEWA Headlock for Hunger Dual Championships, hosted by Johnson & Wales University at the Providence Career and Technical Academy. The Spartans will look to improve upon their ninth-place finish from last year.