SALEM, Va. – The VMI wrestling team opened its 2009-10 season on Sunday, competing at the Hokie Open, hosted by Virginia Tech at the Salem Civic Center.
A trio of Keydets reached the top eight in their weight classes, as VMI was one of 20 teams competing on the day. Freshman Andrew Bannister went 4-2 at 133 lbs., while sophomore Andrew Szymborski (174 lbs.) and senior Ronnie Ellsworth (197 lbs.) each went 3-2, falling in the consolation semifinals.
“I thought we wrestled really hard,” said VMI head coach John Trudgeon. “If you compare this to last year’s performance, this was a much stronger field, and I thought that we wrestled better. It seemed like we were much more competitive, and we’re excited about that. Our conditioning was solid, all of our guys were wrestling hard all seven minutes. In fact, we won a number of matches right at the end or in overtime. We’ve got to get better, that’s for sure, but Coach Skretkowicz and I are excited by our performance. We kept everybody healthy, though I’m sure we’ll be sore tomorrow. It was a good, successful trip.”
Bannister (LaPlata, Md.) began his run with a 7-5 win in overtime against North Carolina’s Jeremy Shaw before dropping a 9-7 decision to Newberry’s Sheridan Moran. In the consolation bracket, Bannister claimed an 8-0 major decision over Cumberland’s Mathew Standfield before knocking off Ohio’s Tim Silvers, 5-4. A forfeit win then moved Bannister to the semifinals against UNC’s Angel Garcia, where the freshman lost a 14-5 major decision to end his day.
Szymborski (Crown Point, Ind.) also started his day with a win against a Tar Heel, defeating Mark Bryant 9-1. A defeault victory moved the Keydet to the Championship Quarterfinals, where he was pinned in 3:45 by Kent State’s Keith Witt. Szymborski responded by pinning Witt’s teammate, Brandonn Johnson, in 4:20 before Bagna Tovuujav claimed a 9-5 win to advance to the fifth-place match.
Ellsworth (Newport News, Va.) opened his season with a dominating, 17-6 major decision over King’s Brandon Smith, and tacked on a 4-2 win over Duke’s Robert Holbrook to reach the Championship Quarterfinal. There, the senior co-captain dropped an 8-3 decision to Newberry’s Keeno Griffin to fall into the consolation bracket. In his next match, Ellsworth scored a 5-3 win against King’s Frank Morgan before an 8-4 loss to Cumberland’s Eric Metzler capped his run.
Also going 3-2 on the day were Michael Long and freshman Conor Black. Long claimed a major decision and a pin among his three wins at 157 lbs., while Black notched back-to-back pins in the consolation bracket at 165 lbs. Other Keydets to notch multiple wins on the day included sophomore David Yost at 141 lbs., freshman Bryce Garrison competing unattached at 165 lbs., freshman Evan Dill at 184 lbs. and sophomore Vinnie Gallo also at 184 lbs.
“We were excited about the performance of the freshman class, but also the job the sophomores did,” said Trudgeon. “Guys like David Yost and Andrew Szymborski wrestled much more confidently and much more aggressively than they did last year, which is what we’re looking for this season.”
The Keydets return to action in two weeks, competing at the Keystone Classic in Philadelphia on Nov. 22.