By Chris Detwiler — STAFF WRITER
The Hofstra Pride wrestling team defeated the George Mason Patriots 26-9 in a hard-fought battle at the sixth annual Grapple at the Garden on Sunday evening at the Theater at Madison Square Garden (MSG). The Pride now hold a 3-4 record this season.
Redshirt-senior heavyweight Mike Hughes won his bout by technical fall. Hughes finished the dominant win with over six minutes of riding time.
Sophomore Sage Heller had the lone pin for the Pride at 157 pounds.
This match was full of close, gritty bouts with the 197, 141, 149 and 174 bouts all ending with a two-point or less differential on the scoreboard. The Pride was able to win three of those four close bouts.
“We have to finish better … but they held on,” said Hofstra head coach Dennis Papadatos. “I was happy with the fight and the grit. Things went a little array and they still found a way to win.”
The match started at 197 pounds, with redshirt junior Nezar Haddad taking the mat first for the Pride. Early in the bout, Haddad forced two stalling calls against his opponent which resulted in a point for Haddad. This ended up being the difference in a tight match with Haddad holding on for a 2-1 victory.
The 141-pound match was also a nail-biter. Redshirt freshman Charlie Kane jogged on the mat for the Pride and was able to squeak by with a 5-3 victory over his Patriot opponent.
The MSG crowd got their money’s worth in the 149-pound match. Redshirt sophomore Connor Burkert lost a tough match in sudden victory. Burkert had a 3-1 lead with about 30 seconds left in the third period, but gave up a reversal to send the match into overtime. Burkert then gave up a takedown early in the extra period, losing the bout 5-3.
Redshirt freshman Anthony Oliveri got the call for the Pride at 174 pounds and earned a 6-4 win over his opponent to seal the match for Hofstra, but not before a bit of extra action. Oliveri rode out his opponent to end the bout which frustrated his opponent. The frustration boiled over and the Patriot wrestler took down Oliveri after the final horn. This did not go over well as the two wrestlers got into a slight scuffle before the team’s benches separated them. George Mason was deducted one team point for instigating the struggle.
Redshirt junior Cory Damiana won the 184-pound bout for the Pride 9-3 to finish off the night.
The wrestling team will return to action on January 1st in the Southern Scuffle in Chattanooga, Tennessee.