By Jeff Smyth
Saturday afternoon, the KU wrestling team found a familiar foe in Lake Erie College. Previously during the season, eighth-ranked Lake Erie upset the 14th-ranked Golden Bears, 33-12, at the national duels. KU had other plans this time around, taking down The Storm 21-16, earning the victory during the final bout.
KU honored its five seniors on Saturday at Keystone Arena in a pre-match ceremony, featuring Brandon Parker, Andre Petroski, Jackson Stabile, Bo Candelaria and Ziad Haddad in this year’s senior class.
The Golden Bears got off to a hot start going up 6-0 with a forfeit at 125 pounds. Lake Erie responded, however, with three-straight wins to take the lead at 10-6. Matt Martoccio bounced back in the 157-pound match squeaking out riding time to earn himself a 10-8 decision.
After a grueling match between KU’s Bo Candelaria and LEC’s Matt Vandermeer, Lake Erie held onto a 13-9 lead with just four bouts left. Sophomore Ryan Krecker and Petroski tallied back-to-back decisions to retake the lead for KU, 15-13.
The two victories were the momentous swing that the bears needed. At 174 pounds, Krecker and LEC’s Nick Vandermeer were tied 2-2 late in the third period, but Krecker’s reversal with just four seconds left gave KU the advantage. Petroski enabled two takedowns in the 184-pound bout to lead him to a 5-2 decision over Zev Green.
Lake Erie came back with a 3-2 decision by Tyler Hughes, narrowing it down to the final match between #1 nationally ranked Haddad and Noah Hosking. It didn’t take Haddad long to secure the victory and to complete the comeback as he pinned Hosking in just 54 seconds. Haddad dominated from the start with a take down in the opening ten seconds, which led to an absolute man-handling in just under a minute, bringing his record on the year at a perfect 20-0.
The day honored the dedicated seniors for their hard work. Parents and family members watched proudly during a sensational day on the mat for some seniors and the contributing underclassmen as well.
The Golden Bears travel to Millersville University for a 7 p.m. start Wednesday night as they look to carry over the winning momentum.