By Michael Comodeca
Cleveland State University only sent six wrestlers to Alliance, Ohio for the Purple Raider Open, but still enjoyed plenty of success. The meet was held at Peterson Field House on the campus of Mount Union University on Sunday, Jan. 14.
Although the whole team did not participate, five out of the six wrestlers who did, placed. The team was led by junior Evan Cheek, who had the best day of the six and won his weight class.
In the first round Cheek defeated Ohio State wrestler Branden Fitzgerald. He then went on to defeat Ashland University’s Justin Wilcox. In the semifinal, he defeated Michigan Wolverine Nick Lombard and in the final he defeated another Wolverine, Ben Freeman.
Over the last two meets Cheek has continued to evolve and has learned to trust his skillset.
“The last two meets have motivated me in the way that I have learned to trust my own attacks against good opponents,” Cheek said. “My wrestling style is typically a little on the defensive side, but I’ve learned through the last two competitions that I can run up more points when trusting my offense.”
Junior John Vaughn and true freshman Georgio Poullas placed second at 157 pounds and 165 pounds, respectively. The other wrestlers who placed were freshman red shirt Colton Carroll at 174 pounds and red shirt sophomore Grant Turnmire at 149 pounds while competing at the Purple Raider Open.
Cleveland State’s wrestlers know heading into meets that they are not considered favorites. However, that does not stop them from competing. Over the next couple of meets, Cleveland State will open its dual meet portion of the schedules and is heading to Eastern Wrestling League play.
“Majority of the time Cleveland State is seen as the underdogs, but when we get a taste of blood, we feed off of it and attack,” Cheek said. “With that being said, I think our team will amp it up here in our dual meet portion of the season and become more dangerous as a whole.”
On the heels of the Purple Raider Open, Cleveland State opened its dual meet schedule on Friday, Jan. 19, at Woodling Gymnasium against 19th ranked Rider University Broncos.
The Broncos were just the better team during that evening, winning the meet 30-6. The Vikings’ sole victory came after Rider did not send out an opponent for red shirt senior Nick Corba to face. Previously, Corba has dominated the Riders’ 184-pound wrestler, Michael Fagg-Daves. He has won three matches against him.
Although the team did not fair well against Rider, they will look to bounce back against another tough opponent, George Mason.
They will square off next Saturday, Jan. 27, at noon in Woodling Gymnasium.