Castleton Beats USM – Most Exciting Dual Ever
Castleton Beats USM – Most Exciting Dual Ever and I mean…MOST EXCITING DUAL EVER!!
I’ve been involved in Vermont wrestling for almost ten years as a coach, parent, fan, observer and reporter and I have to say that I’ve never been to a more exciting and electrifying dual than Saturday afternoon at Castleton University against # 6th ranked USM (University of Southern Maine Gorham).
Slideshow Courtesy of Scott Milliken
What started out as a 14-0 lead by CU dinimished to 14-11 when Castleton won the last three matches by decision to finish 23-11. BUT…. I will tell you that the last three matches were by no means a cakewalk and the audience was on the collective edge of their seats until Jared Costa won by decision in the second to last match of the dual to cement the victory.
In the finale, with the outcome no longer in jeopardy, local favorite Nolan Viens recaptured some of the old magic and outpointed NEWA #3 ranked Justin Stacy 3-2. Nolan exhibited the elusiveness and tenacity that highlighted his highly successful Vermont high school career. Every time Stacy had what seemed to be a solid shot, Viens would work his way out and we even saw his signature Granby, his high school trademark.
Back to 14-11 and USM on the comeback with 11 unanswered points, Cam Milliken of CU outpointed Juan Vernaza 5-3. It was a seesaw battle that could have gone either way and went right down to the wire, a seeming nail in the coffin for CU but still the dual was anything but decided.
Now up by 17-11 with two matches to go, a win by pin for USM could have tied it up. But Jared Costa had other ideas. In another nail biter battle, Costa decisioned Zac Thompson 7-3 to cement the victory. But…..let me reiterate, this was by no means an easy match. Costa and Thompson wasn’t decided till the final whistle.
Castleton had to bang it out with USM to get the victory and it was a hard fought, well earned victory!
Another local favorite, former MAU star Jesse Webb repeated a victory over USM’s Mike Risti. Webb had beaten Risti in the final match at USM’s Ted Reese Invitational just two weeks ago. That match went into overtime with Webb getting a bear hug takedown to clinch it and absolutely electrified the crowd.
I asked Jesse about the match…”He’s incredibly strong but I just work to get the advantage”, said Webb. Jesse is surprisingly quick, works hard and is very difficult to get a takedown against. Go figure – Webb had over 200 wins in high school!
The highlights for USM included a major for Peter DelGallo who continued his dominance in NEWA, a major by Austin Shorey over Ben Billings and a 6-1 decision by Brendan Weir over a very tough Max Tempel!
Now of course, Vermont wrestling fans had ambivalent feelings about Cedrick Stephens victory over former Vergennes phenom, Brandon Cousino. Cousino is having a great freshman year at USM and looked like he had the shot in the final minute to tie it up but Stephens managed to defense the move. Look for Cousino to do some damage in the years to come.
Knowing that Scott Legacy is at the helm of the good ship Castleton, I full well expected that they would move on to big things in college wrestling. That being said, I didn’t quite expect them to move this far and this fast, although I will add that I’m not surprised! Keep in mind that this is only the second year of the program and the stable is full of horses
In an interview with Coach Legacy last year I asked him what his expectations were for the program. His response was, “I just want to beat some teams that no one thinks we will beat”! Well Coach, your prediction has come full circle. Congratulations to CU on a job well done.
Photos Courtesy of Jason Behana – Castleton University Sports Information Director