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Navy Wrestling Pulls Away to Earn Star

The Navy wrestling team won seven of the 10 bouts, including each of the last five, to secure a 22-9 victory over archrival Army in the annual Star Match held Friday evening at Alumni Hall.

The Mids, who have dominated the wrestling series 51-10-5, now own a 15-2 advantage in this year's Star Series presented by USAA.

"I thought they put it together. When you're coaching and training, you're trying to get it right. We haven't peaked yet, but we are getting there," said second-year Navy head coach Cary Kolat, who has guided the Mids to back-to-back wins in the Star Match.  "There were four key matches that we thought were swing matches and we took three of them. That's what needed to happen. The saying in our room is 'get the next guy ready' and they kept getting the next guy ready."

Army opened up a 6-0 lead on the Mids with senior Corey Shie scoring a 7-3 victory over Navy's Tyler Hunt, followed by a 10-3 win by the Black Knights' Matt Williams over Jonathan Miranda at 149.

Navy leveled the match at six apiece with back-to-back wins by 25th-ranked Andrew Cerniglia and Val Park. Last year it was Cerniglia who clinched the Star Match with a 14-3 major decision, while Friday night he again came up big by defeating 23rd-ranked Marcus Hartman 10-4. Cerniglia, who leads the team in wins this season with 24, scored the final six points of the bout, using a reversal late in the second period to break a 4-4 tie and propel him to victory.

"Cerniglia is one of the few guys that can get out of some tricky scrambles," said Kolat. "I think we had two of those in that match. He battled through and lost one, but came out on top and kept his head. He felt it and saw it and it was like he kind of saw the blood in the water. He stayed on that guy, wrestled on the top, shut him down and then picked his points as the match went on.

Park, meanwhile, earned his first win in the series thanks to a third period that saw him earn a one-point escape followed by a takedown with 27 seconds left to secure the 3-0 upset over 27th-ranked Dalton Harkins.

"They (Park and Harkins) are both chess players," said Kolat. "We shut his moves down and Val came through. He's done a good job tightening up his scrambles and becoming more fundamental."

Army had high hopes of scoring bonus points in its match at 174 pounds which pit 23rd-ranked Ben Pasiuk against Navy's Shane Sosinsky, who entered the match having just one dual under his belt. While Pasiuk closed out the match with nearly three minutes of riding time, Sosinsky did yeoman's work in fending off bonus points, holding Pasiuk to a 9-2 decision in the match while Army took a 9-6 advantage in the scoring column.

"Shane did his job. He knew the match at that point (8-2) was lost and that was guts and courage that allowed him to hang on to that leg," Kolat added. "That's a guy tat has had multiple surgeries. That was huge and our whole team knew it. He might have been upset that he lost the match, but our whole team knew what he did. That really helped Key when he was coming in."

Returning NCAA qualifier David Key found himself in a 3-1 deficit after giving up a takedown with one second remaining in the second period, but would use the same tactic to go on and score the win. Key opened the final frame with a reverse to knot the match at 3-all, but Army senior Brad Laughlin was able to escape Key's grip to take a 4-3 advantage with 31 seconds remaining. Despite having the riding time point secured, Key was able to establish position for the takedown with just two ticks left on the clock for the 6-4 decision.

Key's win knotted the match at 9 apiece and was followed by one of the most anticipated matches of the evening at 197 pounds. Army's JT Brown stepped onto the mat ranked #25, while Navy's Jacob Koser stood #26. Both wrestlers owned wins against one another in the annual dual with Koser besting Brown in 2020 (6-1) and Brown topped Koser a year ago (9-4). A scoreless opening period eventually gave way to a Koser escape midway through the second period. Brown, however, would match that point with an escape of his own to open the third frame. Koser took a handful of shots over the final minute, but Brown put the block on. So much so, Brown would be called for his second stall with under five seconds remaining in the match to give Koser the match-winning point in a 2-1 victory.

With just a three-point advantage, Kolat would put great faith in his youth as he sent a pair of plebes out on the mat in two of the final three bouts.

Heavyweight Ryan Catka took a 3-0 advantage midway through the second period of his match against Brandon Phillips en route to a 3-2 victory in his Star Match debut.

"We had a plebe out there wrestling in his first Star Match against a senior. Kids can implode, but he handled it like a veteran. After that I could breathe. We performed at the right time."

Meanwhile it was only fitting, however, for team captain Jacob Allen to put the match out of reach and clinch the team win for the Mids, as he scored a 5-1 victory over third-year standout Ryan Chauvin to double up Army 18-9 .

Rookie Josh Koderhandt nearly brought down the house in the finale, as he used an arm drag to get his foe on the mat, nearly pinning him in the second period. Koderhandt walked away with a 13-2 major decision in what marked the only bonus point match of the evening.

Navy 22, Army 9
Attendance: 2189

141 | Corey Shie dec Tyler Hunt (NAVY), 7-3  // Navy 0, Army 3
149 | Matt Williams dec Jonathan Miranda (NAVY), 10-3 // Navy 0, Army 6
157 | #25 Andrew Cerniglia (NAVY) dec #23 Marcus Hartman, 10-4  // Navy 3, Army 6
165 | Val Park (NAVY) dec #27 Dalton Harkins, 3-0  // Navy 6, Army 6
174 | #23 Ben Pasiuk dec Shane Sosinsky (NAVY), 9-2  // Navy 6, Army 9
184 | #32 David Key (NAVY) dec Brad Laughlin, 6-4  // Navy 9, Army 9
197 | #26 Jacob Koser (NAVY) dec #25 JT Brown, 2-1  // Navy 12, Army 9
285 | Ryan Catka (NAVY) dec Brandon Phillips, 3-2  // Navy 15, Army 9
125 | Jacob Allen (NAVY) dec Ryan Chauvin, 5-1 // Navy 18, Army 9
133 | #24 Josh Koderhandt (NAVY) major Dominic Carone, 13-2  // Navy 22, Army 9