Kasunic Earns NCAA Berth; Eagles 6th at EIWAs

Jeric Kasunic rides an opponent from Ohio U.

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.Jeric Kasunic earned his way back to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships with a fourth-place finish at 197 pounds to highlight American University performances Sunday at the 114th annual Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships, hosted by Hofstra.

Kasunic was one of five Eagles who reached Sunday's action, earning places on the podium with top-eight finishes. Gage Curry and Josh Terao joined Kasunic with a fourth-place finish, while Michael Sprague and Brett Dempsey each finished sixth.

American finished sixth in the team standings, their best since placing third in 2012. American had finished seventh in three of the past four seasons. The Eagles finished a point ahead of Binghamton.

Lehigh held off Cornell for the team title, snapping the Big Red's 11-year hold on the team championship. The Mountain Hawks scored 164.5 points, getting five champions. Cornell had 146 points.

The Eagles will await a decision Tuesday by the NCAA Division I Wrestling Committee, which will award 47 at-large berths to wrestlers who failed to qualify from their respective conference tournaments.

"We're happy for Jeric and him earning victory over the No. 2 seed to get into the third-place match," said AU head coach Teague Moore. "Three falls at the EIWA is difficult to do. Now we head to Cleveland with our sights set on a national title.  

"Gage wrestled well to earn a fourth place. He is the first freshman in a while to be wrestling that type of finish at EIWA's.
 
"Josh can bounce back from this loss. He just needs to remember his strengths and get back to them. Josh has had a great season that should help earn him an at-large. Michael turned in a gutsy performance and after the season he's had, we feel confident he can still earn an at-large bid.
 
"Brett lost a heart-breaking OT ride-out to finish sixth, but with this loss, he still carries a great season and chance at an at-large bid. 
 
"It's tough to see our highest finish since 2012 as a disappointment, but we had very high goals for this weekend and we just didn't get it done. 
 
"We now must sit and wait and see if our season and performances can carry us through."

The NCAA Division I Nationals will be held March 15-17 at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.

GAGE CURRY (125)

Curry, a redshirt freshman, lived up to his No. 3 seed by earning a berth in the third-place match against Zack Fuentes of Drexel after winning his first two matches on Sunday.

Curry opened his day with a 6-2 decision over Matteo DeVincenzo of Princeton, then got a takedown 14 seconds into overtime in a 6-4 victory over Joe Nelson of Binghamton. He finished the tournament with a 3-1 loss to Zack Fuentes of Drexel, earning fourth.

Curry finished his redshirt-freshman season with a 22-14 record.

JOSH TERAO (133)

Terao, seeded third at the tournament and ranked 11th in the nation, lost his first bout of the day, dropping a 10-3 decision to 10th-ranked Scott Parker of Lehigh.

Terao advanced to the third-place match by scoring 16 points in the first period in earning a technical fall over Jonathan Gomez of Princeton in just 2:26. It was his fourth of the season and set a new school record with the 14th of his career. Steve Fittery had 13 from 2009-11.

Austin DeSanto, ranked fifth in the nation and seeded first in the tournament, used a high-scoring third period to earn a 10-8 victory in the third-place match. With just three allocations at 133 pounds, Terao's fourth-place finish has him depending on earning one of the at-large positions from the NCAA Wrestling Committee.

MICHAEL SPRAGUE (149)

Sprague, ranked 18th nationally, opened Sunday with a 3-0 win over Jacob Macalolooy of Columbia in a tightly contested match. He needed a victory in the consolation semifinals over 19th-ranked Cortland Schuyler of Lehigh, but fell 7-1 in overtime in a bout that would decide the last of the four NCAA allocations at 149 pounds.

Sprague came back to wrestle in the fifth-place match against Hunter Ladnier of Harvard and lost a 7-3 decision. Ladnier earned a lead in the first period and held on for the win. Sprague, also with a chance for an at-large bid to the NCAA, finished the tournament at 23-13.

JERIC KASUNIC (197)

Kasunic made the most of his 100th career victory, getting an 8-3 decision over 29th-ranked Rocco Caywood of Army West Point in the consolation quarters. That bout earned his ticket to the NCAA Nationals, giving him at least a top-six finish with six allocations coming to the EIWA place-winners from the NCAA.

He became only the eighth Eagle since 1984 to earn 100 career victories.

Later in the session, he was locked in a tight battle with No. 13 Patrick Brucki of Princeton. The bout was tied at 2-2, with Kasunic holding the riding-time advantage late. Brucki tried a move that failed and Kasunic turned it into his third win by fall of the tournament, his 10th of the season and the 40th of his career.

He was edged 3-2 in the third-place match by Stephen Loiseau of Drexel.

Kasunic's 40 wins by fall are second only at AU to the 44 by former NCAA champion Josh Glenn (2003-08). The next closest on that career list is current volunteer assistant coach David Terao, who had 30 from 2012-16.

He is the fifth wrestler to win as many as 34 matches in a single-season, taking a 34-5 record into the NCAAs.

BRETT DEMPSEY (285)

After beating Ian Butterbrodt of Brown, 5-2, in his first bout of the day, Dempsey needed a win in one of his next two matches to ensure fifth place and get a NCAA berth. The EIWA received five allocations for the heavyweight division.

He lost, 5-0, to 14th-ranked Garrett Ryan of Columbia in the consolation semifinals, moving into the NCAA-clinching fifth-place bout against No. 31 Antonio Pelusi of Franklin & Marshall.

Pelusi and Dempsey battled into overtime, finishing regulation 1-1. Pelusi got an escape in the tie-breaker period and rode out the second half of the period to earn the win.

Dempsey finished his season at 18-11.

 

SUNDAY AU RESULTS IN EIWA CHAMPIONSHIPS

125 – Cons. Quarters – Gage Curry (AU) dec. Matteo DeVincenzo (Princeton), 6-2

125 – Cons. Semis – Gage Curry (AU) dec. Joe Nelson (Binghamton), 6-4 (SV-1)

125 – 3rd-Place – Zack Fuentes (Drexel) dec. Gage Curry (AU), 3-1

133 – Semis - #10 Scott Parker (Lehigh) dec. #11 Josh Terao (AU), 10-3

133 – Cons. Semis - #11 Josh Terao (AU) tech. fall over Jonathan Gomez (Princeton), 16-0 (2:26)

133 – 3rd-Place - #5 Austin DeSanto (Drexel) dec. #11 Josh Terao, 10-8

149 – Cons. Quarters - #18 Michael Sprague (AU) dec. Jacob Macalolooy (Columbia), 3-0

149 – Cons. Semis - #19 Cortlandt Schuyler (Lehigh) dec. #18 Michael Sprague (AU), 7-1 (SV-1)

149 – 5th-Place - Hunter Ladnier (Harvard) dec. #18 Michael Sprague (AU), 7-3

197 – Cons. Quarters - #8 Jeric Kasunic (AU) dec. #29 Rocco Caywood (Army West Point), 8-3

197 – Cons. Semis - #8 Jeric Kasunic (AU) pinned #13 Patrick Brucki (Princeton), 7:00

197 – 3rd-Place - #19 Stephen Loiseau (Drexel) dec. #8 Jeric Kasunic (AU), 3-2

285 – Cons. Quarters - #26 Brett Dempsey (AU) dec. Ian Butterbrodt (Brown), 5-2

285 – Cons. Semis - #14 Garrett Ryan (Columbia) dec. #26 Brett Dempsey (AU), 5-0

285 – 5th-Place - #31 Antonio Pelusi (Franklin & Marshall) dec. #26 Brett Dempsey (AU), 2-1 (TB-2)

Rankings listed are from NCAA Coaches' Panel