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11/21/15 Princeton Wins Navy Classic

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11/21/15 Princeton Wins Navy Classic

Postby Allen Brown » Sun Nov 22, 2015 7:50 am

Two individual victories over Top-10 foes, four individual titles overall and a team victory in the 2015 Navy Classic, which included two Top-25 teams in the field — it would be tough for the Princeton Wrestling team to have a much better night, especially this early in such a promising season.

Princeton, which had placed third in 2013 and second in 2014, won the 2015 Navy Classic with 139 team points, while Kent State took second with 130 points. Wisconsin, ranked 12th in the latest InterMat tournament rankings, finished third (101.5), while Ohio University, ranked 21st by InterMat, finished sixth (79.5).

While the team victory was sweet, some of the individual wins that led the way there were even sweeter. Jordan Laster (141), Jonathan Schleifer (174), Abram Ayala (184), and Brett Harner (197) each won their individual championships, and both Schleifer and Harner went through some major obstacles to get there.

Schleifer defeated Ohio's Cody Walters, the nation's fourth-ranked wrestler, 4-3 to win the 174-pound title. That is the highest-ranked victory for any wrestler during head coach Chris Ayres' near decade as head coach. Only minutes later, Harner, ranked 18th nationally, defeated Ohio's Phil Wennington, ranked seventh, 3-2 to win the 197-pound title.

The first title of the night went to Laster, who was pushed hard by Navy's Nicholas Gil, but he rallied for a 6-5 victory at 141 pounds. It was Laster's first tournament of his Princeton career, though he did reach the EIWA final last season.

Saturday also marked the season debut for senior Abram Ayala, who looked dominant in his debut at 184. While his three champion teammates pulled out one-point wins in the final, Ayala took his title by a 12-6 score, and that was his closest match of the day.

"Great effort by those guys in winning titles, and by the whole team today," head coach Chris Ayres said. "They're putting in the work and getting results, which should motivate them even more. I was really pleased with the effort up and down the roster, and we need to keep building on nights like this."

Ten Tigers placed overall, including four who placed in the top four at their weight classes. Junior Ray O'Donnell, who reached the semifinal at heavyweight, took third, while Pat D'Arcy (125), Chris Perez (149), and Ian Baker (197) each took fourth. Francesco Fabozzi (157) and Judd Ziegler (165) added sixth-place finishes, respectively.

Through two weekends of competition, including the Binghamton Open two weeks ago, the quartet of Laster, Schleifer, Ayala and Harner have combined to lose two individual matches; one was by Laster to Lehigh's Randy Cruz, the reigning EIWA champion, and the other was by Schleifer to Cornell's Brian Realbuto, the reigning NCAA runner-up. Harner won both tournaments, while Ayala made his debut at Navy.
Allen Brown

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