By Kevin Carroll — SPORTS EDITOR
Mike Hughes continued his sensational 2017-18 season for the Hofstra wrestling team by coming in fifth place at the 285-pound weight class in the Southern Scuffle, a two-day tournament held Monday and Tuesday at McKenzie Arena on the campus of the University of Tennessee.
Overall, the Pride finished in 18th place in the 24-team field with a total of 26 points.
Hughes entered the tournament as one of the top-ranked 285-pound wrestlers in the country with a record of 15-0. Earning the third seed in his weight class, the redshirt senior got right to work on Monday, pinning his first two opponents and earning a 4-2 decision over Lock Haven University’s Thomas Haines to advance to the semifinals. In the process, Hughes pushed his unblemished record to 18-0.
There waiting for Hughes was second-seeded Jacob Kasper, from Duke University. Kasper had been on a remarkable tourney run of his own, posting two major decision victories and a tech fall to make it to the semis.
It was there that Hughes would suffer his first loss of the season, a tight 2-0 decision to Kasper, who would eventually go on to defeat Mike Boykin from North Carolina State to claim the 285-pound crown.
Dropping into the consolation bracket, Hughes would suffer another defeat, this time at the hands of top seed Nick Nevills of Penn State University, who had been upset earlier in the tournament by Boykin. Hughes would earn a fifth-place finish with a forfeit victory over Haines, ending the tournament with a 3-2 record and improving his overall record to 19-2.
It was tough sledding for the rest of the Pride, without a single other competitor able to advance past the first round in their respective weight classes.
A few of Hofstra’s wrestlers were able to earn victories in consolation action, however. Jacob Martin picked up a victory over Cleveland State’s Cameron Lathem at the 125-pound weight class, while at the 133-pound class, Vinny Vespa picked up a decision win over Duke’s Josh Copeland. Other Hofstra wrestlers earning wins were Charlie Kane, Connor Muli, Cory Damiana and Michael Oxley.
Next up for the Pride will be a trip to Brookville, New York to take part in this Sunday’s LIU Post Duals. Hofstra will take on Clarion University at 10:30 a.m., followed by Columbia University at 1:30 p.m. before wrapping up competition with American International College at 3 p.m.