By Kevin Carroll – ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
Mike Hughes continued his impressive 2015 campaign on Sunday, winning the state title at the 285-pound weight class to lead the Pride at the New York State Collegiate Wrestling Championships.
The junior won his second consecutive state championship with an 8-0 major decision victory over the University of Buffalo’s Jake Gunning. Hughes went 4-0 on the tournament, improving his record to 11-2 on the season.
Hughes’ title was the driving force behind Hofstra’s seventh-place finish at the event, scoring 75.5 team points. Cornell, the host of the tournament, won the overall team championship with 205.5 points, with five wrestlers earning state titles for the Big Red.
Following up Hughes was junior Frank Affronti, who placed fifth in the 174-pound class, going 4-2 on Sunday to run his overall record to 10-5. Jahlani Callender took sixth place at the 157 class, and Bryan Damon and Cory Damiana each took seventh place at the 125 and 184-pound classes, respectively.
Hughes opened up the tournament by taking on Santino Pelusi of New York University, and quickly dispatched him, picking up the pinfall victory just under four minutes into the match. In the quarterfinals, Hughes won a 9-0 major decision over Ithaca’s Matthew Booth, and then beat Trevor Smith from Army 5-0 to secure his place in the championship round. Hughes scored 23 of Hofstra’s 75.5 points.
Affronti fell in the quarterfinals before tearing through the consolation bracket, picking up four victories, three by tech fall, on his way to a fifth place victory over Troy Seymour from SUNY-Oswego. Affronti’s efforts earned the Pride 13 points.
Callender took a path similar to Affronti’s in his own weight class, falling in the quarterfinals and making a run through the consolation bracket to the fifth-place matchup. However, Callender forfeited the fifth-place match, instead taking sixth, earning 12 points for the Pride.
Damiana and Damon’s efforts would earn Hofstra 8.50 and 8 points, respectively.
The Hofstra wrestling team heads to Madison Square Garden next Sunday, Nov. 29, for the Grapple at the Garden. The Pride will kick things off at 10 a.m. with a match against Princeton University, and then will take on the University of Maryland at noon.