The buzzer rang as CAS junior Brandon Jones scored one final takedown to further secure his victory, a first place finish and an automatic bid to the NCAA Wrestling Championships. In the final match of the day, NYU’s 141 lb. wrestler lived up to the hype and finished the day 4-0, claiming the top spot at the regional qualifier on March 2 at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.
The Violets fielded 10 wrestlers at the East Regional Qualifier on Sunday, featuring three seniors who were eager to finish their post-season careers on a high note. Among those in the lineup included co-captains and returning national qualifiers Jones and CAS junior Patrick Sheehan.
NYU faced tough competition, but held strong and still had seven wrestlers in contention through three rounds of competition. As the day went on, however, the Violets lost a handful of close bouts, and those wrestlers were forced into consolation brackets. CAS senior Chris Amro and SCPS senior Anthony Chu took sixth place in the 174 lb. and 285 lb. weight divisions, respectively. Co-captain and LS junior Matt DiGiovanni and Sheehan each took fifth place in the 157 lb. and 184 lb. weight classes. But Jones took the spotlight as he won first place in the region, and he will head to Nationals for the second year in a row.
“Sunday was a tournament that I needed to compete at a high level in preparation for Nationals,” Jones said. “I saw some tough competition this weekend and wouldn’t be surprised to see all three wrestlers out of the East Regional earn All-American honors.”
Jones said his preparation for this season was more focused compared to last season’s.
“I was still making the transition to NYU and adapting to the demands of both wrestling and academics,” he said.
After compiling a 15-1 team record last season, finishing in the top 25 and sending two wrestlers to Nationals, the Violets came into this season expecting to pick up where they left off. Their tournaments this year included the Grapple at the Garden, the second wrestling event ever held at Madison Square Garden, and the NCAA National Duals in Des Moines, Iowa.
However, the Violets got off to a less-than-stellar start, going 3-7 in their first 10 matches. The team turned it around the second half of the season, going 7-2 and finishing above .500 after claiming the UAA Championship with wins over the University of Chicago and Case Western Reserve in mid-February.
Jones said he felt a mix of emotions following the conclusion of Sunday’s tournament.
“I was disappointed with how our season ended so abruptly,” he said. “I was almost certain that we would formulate a strong dual record and send five guys to Nationals.”
Jones said his goal to be a national champion has not wavered. He will compete again in two weeks.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 4 print edition. Sean Billings is a contributing writer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.