The Boston University wrestling team has been riddled with injuries this season, so it should be no riddle why the Terriers suffered identical 28-12 losses to Brown University and Princeton University on Friday, and a 31-9 defeat against Drexel University on Saturday.
While the setbacks ensured that the Terriers (3-13-1) could continue to count their wins on one hand, they were somewhat expected &- BU had to wrestle Brown (3-10) in Providence, R.I. at 12 p.m. and return to Boston for a 7 p.m. showdown with Princeton (8-8) at Case Gymnasium the same day.
The later contest was the Terriers’ first home dual since Jan. 23, but the homecoming was not so glorious. Neither was BU’s second consecutive home match against Drexel (8-10) on Saturday.
“Home advantage is nice, but it really doesn’t make that much difference if you don’t have a full team,” said BU coach Carl Adams. “Sometimes it’ll make a difference, but not all the time.”
The Terrier’s duel with Brown remained competitive through the first five matches, as BU built a six-point lead with a pin from senior Abbie Rush and decisions from freshman Nestor Taffur and sophomore Matt Morgenstern. From there, however, BU’s injury woes took hold, and Brown went on a 22-0 run with the help of a BU forfeit and multiple Terrier wrestlers competing up in weight division.
That night, the Terriers again looked most promising at the beginning of their duel with Princeton, but after consecutive decisions by BU sophomore Freddy Santaite and Rush, the Scarlet and White dropped the next five matches and watched Princeton’s lead grow to 22.
While the home crowd was energized by two BU decisions to close out the duel &- including a double-overtime thriller by senior Carmen Rondash, who wrestled up two weight divisions &- the deficit was too much to overcome.
BU’s measly three wins by decision against Drexel were not enough to upset the healthy Dragons either. Although Rush won his third match of weekend, BU fell, 31-9.
With two regular season duels remaining, the Terriers will welcome two weeks of healing time before returning to action on Feb. 20.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to do some planning, to get a little rest and to heal up,” said Adams. “Hopefully by the 20th, we’ll have a few more guys in the lineup…we hope to have [seniors C.J.] Inglin and [senior Ben] Mandelbraut in the lineup; however, there are going to be tryouts.”
BU wrestled without Mandelbraut (157), Inglin (165), junior John Hall (184), sophomore Hunter Meys (141), sophomore Dan Kennedy (184) and freshman heavyweight Nate Lavallee, all of whom were starters earlier in the season.
Adams consistently had to send wrestlers into matches of unusually high weight divisions, and had to forfeit matches at some divisions because of a lack of starters. After brief success in the early matches, BU simply could not maintain consistent competition due to injuries.
“It’s not a situation where it’s frustrating because it just becomes a fact of life,” Adams said. “There are points that you can’t make up. If you forfeit you have to give up six points. When you wrestle up [in weight division] someone like [sophomore Andrew] Swank (149), it’s a tall order for him. In some ways it’s frustrating because you’re trying to put up points where there are no points.”
Swank wrestled at 174 three times and was pinned twice on the weekend, losing the other match by major decision.
“We’re asking an awful lot of our wrestlers,” Adams said. “We’re asking our second and in some cases our third line kids to do really big things and I think it’s starting to wear on our guys. But we don’t have many options.”
Despite the frustrations, Adams praised his team for their attitude in the face of adversity.
“I am extremely pleased with the way our guys are responding to our situation,” he said. “It’s tough to have this many kids out of the lineup and to still have a positive approach to competition, training and how you want the season to end. I don’t think we’ve had a drop [in motivation] because of the injuries. To me they’ve seemed more focused and motivated, and to me that’s encouraging.”
Adams was hopeful for the team’s goals in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament and the possibility of qualifying one or two wrestlers for the national tournament.
“It’s the true champions that are able to sustain total focus, and to have the motivation level soar to its highest point [at the end of the season], because that’s why you start the season,” he said. “You want to see how well you do against all the other guys at your level when everyone is supposed to be at their best. So a lot of what happens at this point in the season is mental, to keep your focus and to keep your eye on what you want the end product to look like.”
BU will finish the regular season at Case on Feb. 20 against CAA foe Rider University and American International College before preparing for the CAA Championships on March 5.