Of the 10 bouts contested in The Thunderdome, eight were decided by decision, including a pair of sudden victories late in the goings. Zeb Stewart, Mark Darr and Urayoan Garcia each won by decision for the Keydets.
“Wrestling is the kind of sport when you’re wrestling a dual meet that the score doesn’t indicate how close it really was,” said VMI head coach John Trudgeon. “We had a lot of one point matches that we believed we had a chance to win. Our guys are working hard, getting better. Every time we step on the mat, we (as coaches) see improvement.”
The Citadel (6-5, 5-2 SoCon) jumped out to a 9-0 lead before Stewart’s victory at 149 pounds. Two bouts later, with the Bulldogs leading 13-6, Darr gave the Keydets new life with his 9-4 decision at 165 pounds. VMI’s fate was sealed in the 184 match as The Citadel won 3-1 by sudden victory. Garcia grabbed three more points for VMI in the ensuing match with his 8-6 sudden victory win at 197 pounds.
Always a classic matchup between the longtime Southern Conference foes, one of the most intriguing bouts of the night came at 141 pounds as VMI’s Ryan Goodsell lined up across from Ugi Khishingnyam, currently ranked eighth in the weight.
Points were hard to come by at 141 pounds. After a scoreless first period, Khishingnyam deferred his choice between periods, allowing Goodsell to take bottom. The Keydet earned the escape early in the second period, taking a 1-0 lead heading into the third period.
Khishingnyam elected to take bottom to start the third period, and like Goodsell, got an escape in the early moments of the third, tying the match 1-1. However, Khishingnyam picked up five points in the final 40 seconds of the match with a takedown and three nearfall points, before Goodsell escaped with only seven seconds left.
The 149 pound match proved to be just as intriguing as Stewart earned a 2-1 victory. Again, the bout went scoreless through the first period and between the first and second stanzas, Stewart deferred. His opponent, Jordan Dix, chose bottom and escaped with just 33 seconds left in the second period.
Heading into the third and trailing 1-0, Stewart chose bottom and escaped early in the period. The match went scoreless until the horn blew at the end of the third. Despite a 1-1 tie, Stewart had accumulated 1:01 in riding time, giving him a final point and a 2-1 decision.
At 165 pounds, Darr found himself trailing 4-2 at the end of the first period after his opponent Vincent Bellaran notched a takedown with two nearfall points. Darr hit a reversal with 20 seconds left in the first to cut the lead in half.
In the second period, Darr turned Bellaran on his back and held him long enough to collect three near fall points, giving the Keydet a narrow 5-4 lead going into the final round. Darr chose bottom to begin the third, working to escape in the first 10 seconds and scoring a takedown with just over a minute remaining for insurance points and a 9-4 victory with his two minutes of riding time.
Another one-point decision came at 174 pounds between VMI’s John Dommert and The Citadel’s John Duane, who scored a takedown in the final moments of the first period. Dommert notched an escape in the first 20 seconds of the middle period, cutting Duane’s lead to 2-1. Heading into the third period, Duane opted for bottom in hopes of an escape, which he earned 10 seconds into the third, putting him up 3-1. Late in the bout, Duane was judged to be stalling for a second time and Dommert was issued a penalty point, but it was too little, too late as Duane won 3-2.
The 184 pound match proved to be one of the highlights of the night. After a scoreless first period between Jonathan Jones and Josh Tuck, the latter took bottom for the start of the second period. Tuck escaped with 1:29 left in the second, putting him up 1-0.
Going into the third period, Jones took bottom, looking for the valuable points with an escape or reversal. However, the bout took an interesting turn with 1:19 left in the third. The official judged Jones’ back to be showing to the mat for enough time to give Tuck two nearfall points. Trudgeon stepped in and challenged the ruling. After a video replay, Tuck’s nearfall points were rescinded, as he did not have Jones tilted for enough time. Regulation ended with a 1-1 tie, forcing the night’s first sudden victory. With only one second left in the first overtime, Tuck scored a takedown and picked up The Citadel’s sixth win of the night.
The 197 pound match would be just as exciting, bringing the crowd of over 600 people to its feet several times. Finding himself trailing 2-0 after being taken down midway through the first period, Garcia took bottom in the second and escaped just nine seconds into the period. His opponent, Marshall Haas held a 2-1 decision heading into the third period.
The final two minutes match were electric. Haas elected to take the bottom position, hitting a reversal just 30 seconds in, going up 4-1. Garcia escaped and then scored a takedown for three combined points, tying the match 4-4. Haas escaped again to take a 5-4 lead, but in the final 12 seconds of the match, Garcia scored another takedown to grab a 6-5 lead, but Haas had amassed over a minute of riding time, deadlocking the match at 6-6, forcing overtime for a second straight bout.
Garcia wasted no time in the extra period, taking Haas down just 13 seconds in, collecting his two takedown points and getting the Keydets’ final three team points.
VMI (1-13, 1-3 SoCon) returns to The Thunderdome on Feb. 20 for its final home dual of the season, hosting Southern Conference foe Appalachian State. Action is set for 7:30 p.m. in Cocke Hall.
Friday, Feb. 15 at VMI - Cocke Hall - Lexington, Va.
The Citadel (6-5, 5-2 SoCon) 25
VMI (1-13, 1-3 SoCon) VMI 9
Weight: Winner (School) Type Loser (School) Result - Running Score (CIT-VMI)
125: Joaquin Marquez (CIT) DEC Armando Herrera (VMI) 8-2 (3-0)
133: Aaron Hansen (CIT) DEC Andriy Onufriyenko (VMI) 6-1 (6-0)
141: Ugi Khishignyam (CIT) DEC Ryan Goodsell (VMI) 6-2 (9-0)
149: Zeb Stewart (VMI) DEC Jordan Dix (CIT) 2-1 (9-3)
157: Matt Frich (CIT) MAJ DEC Ted Gottwald (VMI) 10-2 (13-3)
165: Mark Darr (VMI) DEC Vincent Bellaran (CIT) 9-4 (13-6)
174: John Duane (CIT) DEC John Dommert (VMI) 3-2 (16-6)
184: Josh Tuck (CIT) SV-1 Jonathan Jones (VMI) 3-1 (19-6)
197: Urayoan Garcia (VMI) SV-1 Marshall Haas (CIT) 8-6 (19-9)
285: Odie Delaney (CIT) WBF Michael LaPrade (VMI) 4:34 (25-9)