Air Force Wrestlers Unable To Get Past Unbeaten Western State
USAFA, Colo. - It was close throughout, but hurt by a forfeit at 125 pounds, the Falcons could not hold on for the victory against undefeated Western State, falling 21-14 in dual action Friday evening in Cadet East Gymnasium.
The meet got started with the 125-pound bout, where Western State's Eddie Lopez picked up a forfeit to go up 6-0. Air Force's Brandon Strong (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) took a 2-0 lead early in the 133 pound bout, before allowing an escape by Marques Bravo to go up 2-1. Unable to get out of the down position in the second period, Strong began the final period on top, but a reversal by his opponent in the waning seconds of the match proved the deciding factor, as Strong dropped the 5-1 decision, including an extra point for riding time as Western State increased its lead to 9-0 in the dual.
Air Force bounced back at 141 pounds after sophomore Jake Kriegbaum (Abilene, Kan.) took an early 2-0 lead, scoring an early takedown before notching three near fall points to go up 5-0 in the first period. Both wrestlers chose the neutral position in the second period, with Kriegbaum taking a 6-4 lead at the conclusion of two periods. He then chose down to begin the final round. and picked up a point on a stall by his opponent. However, after giving up a reversal, he went back up by two points by recording another escape. Holding onto the 8-6 decision was Kriegbaum, who put the Falcons on the board for the first time in the meet with the three team points.
At 149 pounds, Air Force junior Matt Crippes (Jr., Cloverdale, Calif.) found himself matched up against Tate Lowe. After Crippes got out to the early 2-0 lead, Lowe responded by posting a reversal to tie the match at 2-2. A Crippes reversal put Air Force back up 4-2 before he was able to record a fall in a time of 2:40. However, both teams were stripped of a team point each, bringing the team points to 8-8 at the conclusion of the 149-lb. bout.
At 157 pounds, Western State's Zach Lee got out to a 2-0 lead on Air Force's Zach Lord (Jr., Missoula, Mont.) after scoring an early takedown. Lord, who responded with an escape, cut the margin to 2-1 by the conclusion of the first round, and both wrestlers began the second round in neutral position. Neither wrestler was able to take the advantage in the second round, as Lord chose the down position to begin the final round. Unfortunately, Lord was unable to break position, as Lee held on for the 3-1 decision with riding time.
The 165-pound bout pitted Air Force's Tony Dorward (So., Seattle, Wash.) against Larry Wilbanks and after neither wrestler was able to score a point in the opening round, Wilbanks managed to hold on for the resounding 6-0 decision.
At 174 pounds, Air Force freshman Stephen Crozier (Fr., Monona, Iowa) was trailing 4-3 early in the first round before giving up a two-point takedown, followed by a pair of back points. Going into the second round, Crozier was suddenly down 8-3 and took the bottom position to begin the round. After scoring an escape, Crozier was down once more, enabling his opponent to score a takedown and three back points, but he scored yet another escape to trail 13-5 going into the final round. After his opponent was able to score an escape and takedown to begin the final period, Crozier managed yet another escape. However, it was not enough to keep his opponent away, as Western State's Charlie Pipher scored the 19-6 major decision, putting the Mountaineers ahead 18-8.
The 184 pound bout saw Air Force's Zane Hershey (Sr., Hugoton, Kan.) trailing 2-1 early in the round before a reversal in the first period put him up 3-2. Able to ride out his advantage in the period, Hershey's lead grew to two points after scoring an early escape in round two and another takedown put him up 6-2. Giving up a takedown in the final period, Hershey's lead had shrunk to just two points, but it was enough for him to pick up the win, as he held on for the 7-4 decision to cut the Falcons' deficit to 18-14.
With just two bouts remaining and the Falcons down just seven points, senior 197-pounder Brenden McLean (Merlin, Ore.) was next up for Air Force, this time taking on Western State's Cody Mumma. Mumma grabbed a quick point early in the second periodiwth an escape, but still held just a 1-0 lead in the final period.
The score was knotted at 1-1 in the final period with a second stalling call against Mumma. The period ended with the tied scored, as the two wrestlers moved into a first overtime session. McLean went into the second overtime period on top and was able to hold on to the advantage to keep control. Finally, a takedown by McLean with six seconds left in overtime proved the difference maker, as McLean captured the 3-1 overtime decision to bring Air Force within four points.
The final match saw the heavyweights face off against each other with the match on the line. Air Force was represented by heavyweight freshman Frank McGrath (Hammonton, N.J.), while Kip Cullin took the mat for Western State. The first period in the deciding match went scoreless, with McGrath taking a 1-0 lead on an early escape in the second period. Cullin tied with an escape to knot the score at 1-1 in the second period, and after three periods, the match was still knotted at 1-1. However, a reversal in the extra period by Cullin marked the final difference as Western State took the heavyweight decision and the seven-point team victory, defeating Air Force 21-14.
The Falcons are back in action tomorrow, when they travel to Alamosa, Colo, to take on Adams State in a 6:00 p.m. dual meet.
Western State 21, Air Force 14 125 - Eddie Lopez (WSC) wins by forfeit133 - Marques Bravo (WSC) dec. Brandon Strong, 5-1141 - Jake Kriegbaum (AF) dec. Chris Freije, 8-6149 - Matt Crippes (AF) fall Tate Lowe, 2:40157 - Zach Lee (WSC) dec. Zach Lord, 3-1165 - Larry Wilbanks (WSC) dec. Tony Dorward, 6-0174 - Charlie Pipher (WSC) maj. dec. Stephen Crozier, 19-6184 - Zane Hershey (AF) dec. Dillon Waggoner, 7-4197 - Brenden McLean (AF) dec. Cody Mumma, 3-1 (3OT)285 - Kipp Cullin (WSC) dec. Frank McGrath, 3-1 (TB)