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RPI*s Burns Wins Crown at Southern Maine Ted Reese Invitational

12/09/2013 -

Gorham, ME. – The RPI wrestling team was in action at the 9th annual Ted Reese Invitational hosted by University of Southern Maine this weekend. The Engineers placed 6th as a team with a limited line up making the trip to Maine for the always tough and well run tournament. Junior captain Will Bonagura (Bethel, CT) placed 5th at 174 lbs. not shortly after losing a tight barn burner of a match in the championship semis’ to Taylor Lozier of Plymouth State University 11-12. “That was a tough match” said Coach Brad Nelson, entering his 7th year at the helm of the Engineers program. “We had good control going into the 3rd period, and Lozier just found a move that worked well and exploited a weakness.” “Before we could adjust, he had hit it again for the go ahead points. It was disappointing to not make the finals after that, but Will battled back for 5th. Sometimes those are the best matches to learn from, especially being that it is still early in the season.”

Junior Stuart Curtis (Clifton Park, NY) was also 5th at 197 lbs. Curtis had a rough day offensively and couldn’t find his rhythm on his feet, but continued to put in hard work to battle through the wrestle backs after dropping his first round match to Joshua Bonneau from SUNY Sullivan via a tight score of 9-7. “I was disappointed we didn’t get that match under our belts, but Stuart just kept working throughout the day. That always shows in the end” said Nelson. Curtis is now 10-5 on the year.

Freshman Alex Petersen (Hermon, ME), Freshman Ryan Ford (Brewster, NY), Sophomore Enrico Cascio (Santa Monica, CA) and Omar Abdoun (Niskayuna, NY) also were in action but falling short of placing. When asked how he felt on their performance, Nelson had this to offer “I have mixed feelings on their results” he said with a conservative smile on his face. “It’s a great opportunity for the freshman to get in some more great matches at this level. We’ve had a tough first semester and they’ve wrestled well, but I was looking for a little more today before we head into finals week. But it’s over now so we learn and move forward.” “We can’t get to Nationals in December” he added. “My sophomores I definitely expected more of today, but it wasn’t in the cards. They’re young, but still leaders on the team. They need to be at another level and blaze a path”. Nelson reminds me that this is still a relatively young team in its second year of a major rebuilding effort. “We’re predominantly freshman and sophomores right now.” The future is “tremendously bright” he said, as long his wrestlers buy into the program and stick with things, adapt and overcome. “It’s sometimes a tough transition from high school to college” he adds. “Your options are to keep on plugging along, learn from losses and get better, or just give up.” “I like to think all my guys are learners”.

The highlight story came from freshman Conner Burns (Malvern, PA) as he won the crown at 165 lbs., becoming the first RPI wrestler to win in the finals since Rob Venditti who was a 2x Ted Reese champion here and a 2007 All-American. “We’ve had a bunch of finalists since, but we just always were squeaked out. It’s nice to be on that other side for a change”. Burns was a perfect 4-0 on the day with 3 pins and a decision. In the finals match, Burns faced off against Nicholas Giulietti from American International College. Burns and Giulietti scrapped for a bit on their feet and it was quickly a 2-1 score in favor of the AIC wrestler. After some more positioning, Burns then lit up the fans when he timed a near perfect throw on Giulietti, landing him to his back. After about 20 seconds of fighting Burns secured the pin and his first tournament victory of the year and his young college career. Giulietti is the #3 ranked wrestler at 165 lbs. in the NCAA DII Super Region 1 (East Region) currently. “That was a huge win for him. I think after the NYS Intercollegiate Championships where he placed 4th the other weekend, he realized what he could accomplish on the work he’s put in thus far. This win solidified that. If he keeps working hard and stays healthy he will be hard to stop.”

The Engineers head into finals week and a semester break for the holidays, but will be back in action not to long after the first of the New Year.

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