LEXINGTON, Va. - Competing at home for the first time this season, the VMI wrestling team fell to George Mason and SIU Edwardsville Saturday afternoon at Cormack Hall.
Despite a late rally that came down to the heavyweight class, the Keydets (0-6, 0-3 SoCon) fell by a 26-18 score to George Mason before a 39-7 defeat to SIUE in the 4 p.m. match.
With two wins on the day, VMI sophomore Neal Richards continued to shine for the Keydets as he improved to 16-2 on the year and has now won nine consecutive bouts dating back to Nov. 20. VMI wrestled without the services of senior 125-pounder Dalton Henderson (15-6 season record), who was forced to forfeit his matches due to injury.
George Mason 26, VMI 18
The Patriots jumped out to a commanding 20-0 lead after four bouts following Henderson’s forfeit, a loss by fall at 133 and a technical fall in the 149-pound class. Richards put VMI on the board with a hard-fought 8-5 decision over Mason’s Matt Raines to trim the disadvantage to 20-3.
After Cade Kiely earned a 7-3 decision over GMU’s Daniel Mika at 165, senior 174-pounder Shabaka Johns was given six free team points as his opponent forfeited due to an injury earlier in the day. Down 20-12 with three bouts to go, the Keydets rallied as Chris Beck earned a 4-1 decision at 184 and Taylor Thomas registered a 3-2 riding time decision over GMU’s Matt Meadows.
With the chance of a come-from-behind victory in the heavyweight class, VMI’s Thomas Shea-Roop was pinned in the third period as the Patriots secured the win by a 26-18 tally.
SIUE 39, VMI 7
The Keydets again allowed a large deficit to open their second dual of the day as SIU Edwardsville jumped to a 23-0 advantage after the first four bouts. After the forfeit at 125, VMI 133-pounder Michael Hulcher was pinned by SIUE’s Joe Antonelli before 141-pounder John Reed lost by fall to SIUE’s Trevor Feagans as the Cougars quickly started with an 18-0 lead.
Cougar John Fahy increased the SIUE lead to 23-0 with a 16-1 tech fall over VMI’s Stevan Smith.
Richards stopped the bleeding once again with a 15-7 major decision over SIUE”s Karsten Van Velsor to cut the disadvantage to 23-4. After a pair of losses at 165 and 174, VMI 184-pound freshman Chris Beck logged a 3-1 decision over Jake Godinez for the Keydets’ final points of the afternoon.
The Cougars earned wins in the final two bouts of the day en route to the 39-7 victory.
VMI hits the road to compete at the Pitt Duals next Saturday, Jan. 14 at the University of Pittsburgh. The Keydets face Bloomsburg at 10:30 a.m., Brown at noon and Edinboro at 1:30 at Fitzgerald Fieldhouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.