HOBOKEN, N.J. – Behind a trio of champions, the Ursinus College wrestling team produced a second-place finish at the Centennial Conference championship Saturday, tallying 79.5 points to finish behind only host Stevens' 95.5.
While the Ducks claimed their third consecutive conference crown, the Bears made them earn every bit of it with an impressive display inside Canavan Arena. Junior Christopher Tan won the 125-pound title, joining seniors Alexander Kramer (149) and Derek Arnold (157) atop the podium with hard-won gold medals against formidable foes from Stevens.
Arnold won the Chris Clifford Award, given to the senior who earned the most career points at the CC championship. He is the sixth Ursinus wrestler to capture the honor.
Gettysburg took third place with 61.5 points, followed by Washington and Lee (57), Merchant Marine (46), McDaniel (30.5), Johns Hopkins (27), and McDaniel (11). The Bears were the team runner-up for the second time in three seasons.
Tan became the first 125-pound champion for the Bears since 2008 with a dominating run through the first weight class. He started with a 17-1 technical fall over Muhlenberg's Connor McGee, then advanced to the title bout with his second victory this season against Johns Hopkins' Ricky Cavallo. The 7-4 decision was actually Tan's closest call, as the junior went on to rout the Ducks' Rob Murray, the defending CC champ, by an 11-3 count in the first-place match. Tan's resounding result avenged a 7-6 setback at the hands of Murray in the teams' regular-season meeting.
Kramer, like Tan, took his title thanks to a victory over a wrestler who had handed him a loss in the regular season. The Bears' senior notched technical falls over McDaniel's Clint Wright (15-0) and Washington and Lee's Zachary Papin (17-1) to set up a winner-take-all showdown with Stevens' Zach Wilhelm, who had defeated him 3-2 two weeks ago. This time, a 7-5 decision went the way of Kramer, who made it four 149-pound champs for the Bears in the last five years.
Arnold, the top seed at 157, lived up to his billing with three dominating victories that led to his third career conference championship. The two-time 149-pound champion routed McDaniel's Wade Bishop, 16-0, in the quarterfinals and pinned Merchant Marine's Erik Beshada in 3:48 in the semifinals.
Up next was a battle with second-seeded Thomas Poklikuha of Stevens. Arnold turned the clash of nationally ranked grapplers into a runaway, cruising to a 7-1 victory that made him the 25th three-time champ in conference history. It was Arnold's second defeat of Poklikuha in two weeks, following a 15-5 major decision in the regular-season meeting.
Junior Cody Richmond was the lone runner-up for Ursinus. The number three seed at 184, he picked up a 9-2 decision opposite McDaniel's Jake Pooton to set up a semifinal contest with second-seeded Danny Moore of Stevens. Richmond reached the final with a dramatic 4-3 defeat of Stevens' Danny Moore, clinching with an escape in the second sudden victory period. Top-seeded Patrick Rooney of Merchant Marine ended Richmond's run with an 11-6 decision in the final.
The top seed in the heavyweight division, senior Matan Peleg settled for third place when W&L's Matt Kaminer notched a 4-2 upset in the semifinals. Peleg pinned Muhlenberg's Scott Schaeffer in the second period to make the third-place match, which he controlled throughout on the way to an 8-1 win over McDaniel's William Emerson.
Freshman Alfred Corradetti (141), junior Jarret DiGiantomasso (165), and senior Corey Markovitch (174) all placed fourth for the Bears. Corradetti reached the 141-pound semifinals with an 8-4 victory over Stevens' Yoseph Borai before dropping out of the main bracket with a 7-3 loss to eventual champion Alvontae Drummond of McDaniel. Corradetti rebounded to post a 9-7 decision opposite Johns Hopkins' Lucas Escobar to reach the third-place match, where Borai eked out a 3-2 final in the rematch.
DiGiantomasso sandwiched a pin of McDaniel's Cole Nagle and an injury default in between two losses to Merchant Marine's Josh Glantzman, who won 2-0 in the main draw and 5-3 in the third-place bout.
Markovitch, seeded fifth, earned a big point for the Bears in his opening match, edging fourth-seeded Jake Gordon of Muhlenberg, 3-2, to advance to the semifinals and give him the rubber match of the season series. Markovitch suffered a 6-5 loss to Gordon at the Petrofes Invitational, but came back with a first-period pin at the teams' dual match a month ago before Saturday's thrilling third round.
In the semifinals, Markovitch was pinned by Johns Hopkins' Jared Forman, who went on to defend his conference crown. Markovitch blanked Stevens' Josh Smith, 3-0, before falling to W&L's Brandon LeFore.
Freshman James Harkness went 1-2 at 133, edging Muhlenberg's Austin Sherman by a 5-4 decision in the first round of the consolations. Sophomore Michael Newman was 1-2 at 197, his victory a 10-2 major decision over W&L's Zachary Francis in the consolation rounds.