WASHINGTON – With the four members of its senior class leading the way, the American University wrestling team battled to a close 18-16 loss against 21st-ranked Ohio on Friday night at Bender Arena.
The Eagles fell to 5-9 on the season with the loss, while the Bobcats improved to 13-3 with their eighth-straight dual victory.
Ohio won the first bout of the evening, earning a close 6-4 decision at 149 pounds, while AU senior captain John Boyle, ranked 14th in the nation, picked up a 3-1 decision at 157 pounds to tie the match at 3-3.
Redshirt senior Mitchell Wightman used a strong second period to secure a 6-0 decision at 165 pounds, giving the Eagles the lead, but the Bobcats regained the advantage after ninth-ranked Cody Walters scored a major decision at 174 pounds. Meanwhile, a 3-2 decision by junior Jason Grimes at 184 pounds gave American a 9-7 lead heading into the intermission.
Ohio went back on top with a decision by 16th-ranked Phil Wellington at 197 pounds, while the Bobcats increased their lead with a sudden victory decision in the heavyweight match.
Senior captain David Terao, ranked 14th in the nation at 125 pounds, put American back on the board with a dominant performance, winning a 20-8 major decision to tie the match at 13-13. With the victory, Terao moved into a tie for second place in career wins at American with 122.
The Bobcats took the lead for the final time by earning a technical fall at 133 pounds, but redshirt senior Tyler Scotton ended the match on a positive note for the Eagles, winning a 5-2 decision at 149 pounds to complete the sweep by AU's senior class.
"Ohio has a solid lineup from top to bottom, that's why they've been ranked all season long," said American head coach Teague Moore. "I think one thing our team is finally doing is wrestling all seven minutes, and we're starting to wrestle to our positions.
"I'm happy with tonight's match. We're seeing a whole change of energy in our squad and we're happy with where we're at right now—we're making good progress."
Prior to the match, the four members of AU's senior class were honored in a special ceremony. Wightman and Scotton, who each wrestled at Boston University before the program was dropped in 2014, have both made an immediate impact on the Eagles' lineup in their lone season at AU.
"It's unfortunate that we only get [Mitch and Tyler] for one season," said Moore. "The day that they both showed up, they immediately became AU wrestlers and they were committed to our goals and everything we were trying to do. I love coaching guys like that."
Meanwhile, Boyle and Terao have each made their marks on the AU record book during their time at American. The team captains both rank in the top 10 in career wins at AU, with Terao on pace to set the career win record. They have also combined for four NCAA appearances, with Terao qualifying his first three seasons and Boyle joining him in 2015.
"It's really tough not to get emotional about these guys," said Moore. "David was literally the first guy to come to AU under my coaching tenure, and he's really grown as a wrestler, as an athlete and as a person. The same thing with John—he has shown the type of character and leadership that we want out of every AU wrestler.
"We'll never be able to replace a David Terao or a John Boyle. We're going to look for more guys just like them—they are the models that we want to follow in the guys that we recruit."
American closes out the regular season on Sunday, when it visits George Mason in a 2 p.m. contest.
No. 21 Ohio 18, American 16
149: Cullen Cummings (OU) dec. Tom Page, 6-4
157: No. 14 John Boyle (AU) dec. Spartak Chino, 3-1
165: Mitchell Wightman (AU) dec. Austin Reese, 6-0
174: No. 9 Cody Walters (OU) maj. dec. Michael Eckhart, 13-1
184: Jason Grimes (AU) dec. Andrew Romanchik, 3-2
197: No. 16 Phil Wellington (OU) dec. Jeric Kasunic, 6-2
HWT: Jesse Webb (OU) dec. Jake Scanlan, 3-1 (SV1)
125: No. 14 David Terao (AU) maj. dec. Shakur Laney, 20-8
133: No. 14 Cameron Kelly (OU) tech fall James Giaccia, 16-0 (2:30)
141: Tyler Scotton (AU) dec. Noah Forrider, 5-2