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CSU wrestling looks to pin down winning season

New recruits add new life, help veterans improve on past

Published: Monday, December 10, 2012

Updated: Monday, December 10, 2012 15:12

Building a team takes time. Whether it's football, basketball or rugby, constructing a championship-caliber team takes hard work, dedication and time. The Detroit Red Wings once had a stretch where the team missed the playoffs multiple times — a stretch that would last nearly 20 years where the team was dubbed the Dead Wings. In the late '80s and early '90s, the New England Patriots had one of the worst records in NFL history at the time, and would miss the playoffs eight years in a row.

Through patience and smart decision-making, historically winning franchises have gone from the depths of obscurity to the arms of prosperity, and Cleveland State University's wrestling team is doing just that.

CSU's wrestling team has seen its share of failure and adversity, amassing a mere 11 wins in the past three seasons and only grabbing the Eastern Wrestling League championship once in team history (1979). It has been a long, hard road for the Vikings on the mat, but smart decisions by the coaching staff and hard work by the athletes have things looking up.

CSU's coaching staff devoted a lot of time and energy into recruiting during the offseason and came away with a few quality prospects. Daniel King, Ray Stone and Riley Shaw were signed coming into the 2012-13 season, and head coach Ben Stehura feels they will be able to contribute immediately.

“We feel like we have really put together an excellent recruiting class,” Stehura told “I know our coaching staff is really looking forward to this group arriving on campus.”

Shaw has notched two wins already this season along with placing fourth in the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md. Shaw went undefeated his senior year at Washington Court House High School and holds a high school record of more than 100 career wins.

After winning big, 31-9, at John Carroll University last Tuesday, the Vikings fell to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. just 10 days later, 21-15. Through both matches, the Vikings have shown promise for the not-so-distant future.

Junior Ben Willeford (125 lbs.) and freshman Michael Carlone (133 lbs.) both dominated their opponents in University Heights. Willeford destroyed JCU freshman Michael Bucksiko (125 lbs.) 16-4 for the major decision while Carlone overpowered the heavier sophomore Phil Kail (144 lbs.) 12-2 for the victory. Junior Nick Flannery (141 lbs.), senior Mike Mencini (149 lbs.) and sophomore Xavier Dye (174 lbs.) each defeated their opponents with a decision.

Unfortunately for the Vikings, EMU would prove to be a loftier opponent. Carlone came up big for CSU, pinning freshman Vincent Pizzuto (133 lbs.). Again Flannery, Mencini and Dye posted decision wins for the Green and White, but it just wasn't enough to hold down the Eagles. The loss against EMU dropped the Vikings to .500 with a record of 1-1. Luckily for the Vikings, they have nothing but time.

The Vikings are set to host the CSU Open on Saturday, Dec. 15 in the PE Building at 2452 Euclid Ave. Wrestling begins at 9 a.m.


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