The match we’ve waited all season for lived up to the hype. Army and Navy faced off in Annapolis on Saturday night and it came down to the very last minute. The Black Knights entered the contest at 9-3, the Midshipmen just behind them at 8-5.
As you may know, I previewed this match yesterday. Unfortunately, I was pretty much wrong across the board. Well, everything aside from Noah Stewart picking up a Major Decision. Saturday night’s dual was intense from top to bottom, and the Black Knights came away with the 16-15 win with the third criteria.
If you followed along on Twitter, you probably know that this was a low and slow dual with plenty of stalemates and six of the ten matches remaining tied 0-0 after one period. Even still, the excitement of a match that comes down to criteria is tough to beat. Here’s how it went down.
How it happened:
The dual started at 125 pounds with Navy’s No. 25 Logan Treaster taking on Army’s No. 23 Trey Chalifoux. I was correct in predicting the wrestlers, but Chalifoux proved me wrong by grabbing the decision over Treaster. He picked up takedowns in the first and second periods while limiting Treaster to just two 1-point escapes.
Next at 133, Lane Peters got the call for Army to face Navy’s No. 29 Casey Cobb. Like Chalifoux before him, Peters grabbed an early takedown and limited Cobb to just one single escape. Watching the match, you would have expected Cobb to be leading by a wide margin, but Peters refused to give up points. Peters notched the 3-1 decision upset over Cobb to finish his junior season on a strong note and give Army the 6-0 team lead, exactly the opposite of what I anticipated.
No. 30 Cody Trybus represented Navy at 141 as expected, but he faced Corey Shie instead of Logan Brown. This time, I was right to predict a Navy win and not to expect bonus points. Shie took the early lead with an escape in the second period but Trybus tied him up with a third period escape. This was another match that Trybus appeared to dominate, but it took until sudden victory for him to secure the decision. With just seconds left in the 1 minute SV period, Trybus finally knocked Shie off balance to secure the takedown and get Navy on the board 6-3.
Once the dual moved to 149 pounds, emotions really started to show. PJ Ogunsanya of Army took on Jared Prince of Navy. Prince grabbed the early lead and opened up a 5-0 advantage early on in the second period. Ogunsanya then took 37 seconds of injury time as he appeared to injure his ankle. The use of time then gave Prince the selection to resume and he started in the down position to grab another escape. He came away with the 7-2 decision but Army was docked a team point which meant that Navy was in the lead, 6-5.
The big shock of the night came at 157 where I expected Army’s No. 10 Markus Hartman to compete. He did not, instead being replaced by Lucas Weiland against Val Park. The replacement proved not to really change the expected result as Weiland grabbed four near-fall points in the second period. He rode out Park for the duration of the second period but Park rode out Weiland for the third period to neutralize the riding time and give Army the 8-6 lead back.
I thought there was a chance that Hartman would move up a class to test himself against Navy’s No. 9 Tanner Skidgel. Instead, Skidgel faced No. 21 Cael McCormick and beat him with a long, slow 1-0 decision. The only point of the match came at the start of the third period when McCormick gave up the optional escape to start neutral again. As a result, Navy jumped back in front 9-8.
The 174 match came with a huge upset that got the Alumni Hall crowd roaring. Army’s No. 17 Ben Harvey took on Navy’s team captain No. 22 Spencer Carey. Harvey took the early escape lead but Carey tied things up and then secured the match-winning takedown with just 9 seconds remaining in regulation. Navy extended their lead to 12-8, their largest of the dual.
WR - thru 7— Navy Athletics (@NavyAthletics) February 23, 2020
Army 8, @NavyWrestling 12
Navy team captain Spencer Carey picks up the upset over #11 Ben Harvey at 174 pounds. Carey scores the match-winning takedown with under 5 seconds remaining.
Watch live on @PatriotLeagueTV here: https://t.co/xb0ZDt0Z7G pic.twitter.com/912sk7P2WJ
On to 184, where I was actually right about a prediction. No. 15 Noah Stewart of Army faced off against Dean Caravela and picked up the only bonus point of the match. Stewart grabbed his first takedown before I could finish tweeting which wrestlers were on the mat. He kept going, grabbing another takedown and four near-fall points at the edge of the mat and extending his first period lead to 8-1. Both wrestlers added 2 points in the second period but Stewart secured the riding time point to win 11-3 and tie the dual at 12.
Jacob Koser of Navy defeated J.T. Brown at 197 to give Navy the lead right back. Koser picked up a quick escape and takedown at the start of the second period that seemed to shake Brown, as his only point was from a third period escape. Koser doubled his own advantage with a takedown and the riding time point. Navy secured a 15-12 lead heading into the heavyweight matchup.
Army’s No. 19 Ben Sullivan took the mat at 285 and he squared off against Navy’s third string wrestler, Riley Smith. Smith gave it his very best performance, only allowing Sullivan to pick up a 1-point escape in the second period and staying on the attack throughout the match. Smith didn’t have a chance to equalize as the third period started neutral and No. 19 Sullivan held off the attacks to secure a 1-0 decision and tie the match at 15-15.
So who won?
As the match ended, a discussion bounced back and forth on press row over how the criteria work. If you’ve been following the last few weeks you know that I’ve been talking a lot about the criteria. In this case, it came down to the third criteria to declare Army the winners. Both squads won 5 weights and neither team had any falls, injury defaults, or disqualifications so it came down to total individual points. Noah Stewart’s 11-3 win proved to make the difference for the Black Knights as they prevailed 29-26 to take the team score 16-15 and secure the star.
Both Army and Navy can now turn their attention to the EIWA championships that will take place at Lehigh on March 6. From there, it will be time to focus on the NCAA Championships and await seeding results.