LEWISBURG, Pa. — 125-pound redshirt sophomore Josh Terao will compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday after he rolled over Johnson Mai in the EIWA Quarterfinals on Friday at Bucknell.
Terao's technical fall in 4:06 was the only American wrestler to advance in the championship bracket but wrestleback wins by Esteban Gomez-Rivera (133), Michael Sprague (149), and Jeric Kasunic (197) put the Eagles in prime position heading into the final day of competition.
American has not had a wrestler stand atop the podium since 2012, when heavyweight Ryan Flores led the Eagles. Since then, AU has had six competitors finish second or third. John Boyle finished second last season at 157. Terao finished sixth as a freshman in 2015.
Terao is set to meet Trey Chalifoux of Army, who upset third-ranked Tanner Shoap from Drexel. The winner will face either No. 4 Noah Baughman of Cornell or the top-seeded Darian Cruz of Lehigh. Terao and Cruz last met on Jan. 14, a 9-5 victory by Cruz.
The Eagles sit tied for eighth with Harvard with 83 team points. Cornell is looking its 11th straight EIWA Championship. The Big Red have 81.5 points. Lehigh sits in second place with 69.5 points followed Princeton with 64.5. Army West Points, Navy, Binghamton and Drexel all sit ahead of American. Host Bucknell, Columbia, Penn, Brown, Hofstra, Franklin & Marshall and Sacred Heart are behind the Eagles.
Gomez-Rivera lost his quarterfinal match to Jeffery Ott from Harvard, 6-3, but took a 5-2 decision over Alec Kelly from Columbia in his wrestleback match. The second-ranked competitor will meet Hofstra's Vinny Vespa, who defeated Army's Austin Harry in the final seconds. Gomez-Rivera will need two more wins to garner an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. The EIWA will place four wrestlers from the 133-pound weight class at nationals in March.
Sprague fell in his quarterfinal contest to top-seed Laike Gardner from Lehigh, 4-2. He bounded back with an 8-3 decision over Alex Harnsberger from Sacred Heart. He needs three wins on Saturday to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Only three EIWA wrestlers from 149 pounds head to St. Louis. A tough bracket for Sprague with two other ranked opponents still alive, he will face Danny Reed of Columbia, who etched out sixth-ranked Joe Oliva of Penn.
Among the other consolation wrestlebacks, Jason Grimes (184) won by pinfall over Garrett Hoffman from Bucknell. Grimes has two chances tomorrow to qualify since the EIWA gets seven wrestlers at 184 pounds. Up next for Grimes is Harvard's Kanon Dean, who won both his decisions scoring five points in both matches.
Tom Page (157) also won via a pin on Jake Kaminsky (Hofstra) in 1:32. Page, like Gomez-Rivera, needs to win two matches to represent at 157 pounds. Page will square-off with Bucknell's Victor Lopez, who was knocked off in the Round of 16 as the third-seed.
Kasunic fell to Brett Harner of Princeton by an 8-0 major decision. He reconciled with a major decision of his own against Brown's Tucker Ziegler, 10-0. Kasunic also needs two wins to be one of the four EIWA competitors off to the Midwest. He will meet Navy's Steve Cervantes in the quarterfinals of the third-place bracket.
125: No. 2 Josh Terao over Johnson Mai (Columbia), Technical Fall (4:06)
133: Jeffrey Ott (Harvard) over No. 2 Esteban Gomez-Rivera, Dec. 6-3
149: No. 1 Laike Gardner over No. 8 Michael Sprague, Dec. 4-2
197: No. 2 Ben Horner over No. 7 Jeric Kasunic, Dec. 8-0
CONSOLATION OF 8 #2 WRESTLEBACKS
133: No. 2 Esteban Gomez-Rivera over Alec Kelly, Dec. 5-2
141: AJ Jaffe (Harvard) over Jack Mutchnik, Dec. 3-2
149: Michael Sprague over Alex Harnsberger (Sacred Heart), Dec. 8-3
157: Tom Page over Jake Kaminsky (Hofstra), Fall (1:32)
165: Austin Rose (Drexel) over Cole Moseley, Dec. 3-2
174: Jonathan Schleifer (Princeton) over Joe Salvi, Fall (1:51)
184: Jason Grimes over Garrett Hoffman (Bucknell), Fall (5:53)
197: Jeric Kasunic over Tucker Ziegler (Brown), Dec. 10-0
285: Conner Calkins (Binghamton) over Brett Dempsey, Dec. 5-3