PROVIDENCE, RI – In their home gym for the first time this season, the Johnson & Wales University wrestling team had a strong showing at the Wildcat Open, sponsored by USC. The Wildcats brought home three individual titles with 14 top-five finishes.
Winning the crown at 133 pounds was sophomore Freddy Eckles, who also got his 100th career victory. The 157-pound weight class was taken by fellow sophomore William Hughes. Classmate Steven Ocampo brought home the victory at 165 pounds.
A pair of tech falls put Eckles into the championship bout where he beat teammate Christian Rivas with an 18-7 major decision. Rivas path to the finals had two pins, including one over the top seed, Dillon Murphy from Harvard.
It was an all-JWU final at 157 pounds as Hughes beat Darius Joyce, 5-3, in the title bout. Hughes got the day started with a tech fall then two decisions got him into the finals. Joyce beat teammates Brady Robin and Sam Tenaglia to reach the championship match.
Ocampo needed an overtime victory over Bridgewater State's Wilfredo David to get into the last match. He needed another overtime win against another Bear, Fox Maxwell, to claim the championship.
Senior Michael DiNardo notched three pins to get into the finals of 285 pounds. He lost a 7-6 decision to Donald McNeil – a former NCAA Division I wrestler – who was competing unattached.
Cam Altobelli got started with a tech fall then a pin of the second seed, Armani Dotson from Roger Williams, got him into the finals. He lost his championship bid to Brown's Aaron Wolk.
Rookie Gabriel Leo made it to the semifinals of 125 pounds where he lost to eventual champion Reese Fry from Brown University. Leo bounced back to beat BSU's Wilson Gomes, 10-3, to take third. Senior Marvin Cunningham recorded two pins to get into the 149-pound semis. The national leader in pins, he rebounded from a semifinal loss to pin Zeth Dean in 1:01 to take third.
JWU is back on the mat next Saturday when it travels to Springfield College for a quad meet with the Pride, Cortland State and Castleton.