Abram Ayala ’16, Princeton’s top wrestler this season, had a rare opportunity on the opening day of the EIWA Championships March 8: If he won two matches, he would earn a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Ayala wrestles in the highly competitive 197-lb. weight class, in which seven bids were allocated to the EIWA. (Most weights had four or five bids this year.) But to punch an early ticket, the sixth-seeded sophomore needed to get past American’s Daniel Mitchell, the No. 3 seed.
Ayala pulled off the quarterfinal upset after trailing early in the match, edging Mitchell 4-3. In tournament wrestling, Princeton coach Chris Ayres said, “Those are the ones that you need.”
Day two did not go as well — for Ayala or his teammates. After losing his semifinal match to Cornell’s Jace Bennett and dropping another in the consolation bracket, Ayala finished 5th, joining four other Tigers who placed in the top eight of their weight classes: Adam Krop ’15 (5th, 149 lbs.), Brett Harner ’17 (5th, 184 lbs.), Kevin Moylan ’16 (8th, 157 lbs.), and Ray O’Donnell ’17 (8th, heavyweight). Krop and Harner each finished one spot shy of an NCAA bid.
All 10 of the Princeton wrestlers in the EIWA draw won at least one match — a testament to the team’s balance, Ayres said. In the team standings, Princeton placed 12th in the expanded 18-team field. Cornell coasted to the team title, outpacing second-place Lehigh by 64.5 points.
Relying on a relatively young lineup in 2013-14 (only two seniors, Garrett Frey and Ryan Callahan, were on the EIWA squad), Princeton finished the dual-meet season with an 11-4 record and tied for second in the Ivy League with a 3-2 mark in Ivy matches. Ayres said that his team was hoping for stronger results in the EIWA Tournament, but going forward, “expectations are high, and that’s what we want.”
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