COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. - Robert Ruiz and Richard Durso captured first-place finishes to lead the Franklin & Marshall wrestling team at the Ursinus Fall Brawl on Saturday. The Diplomats totaled 131 points to take third in a field of 15 teams.
Ruiz and Durso each secured golds by running the table through their bracket with four straight victories. At 133 pounds, Ruiz opened with convincing wins by major decision and technical fall, before recording a pair of wins by decision to win the title, inlcuding a 7-5 triumph over McDaniel's Ryan O'Boyle in the championship bout. Durso, the top seed in the 141 draw, made his way to the title with a fall and two major decisions, and capped off the day with a 6-1 decision over Ursinus's Eli Gaylor in the gold medial bout.
A total of seven Diplomats placed in the top four of their respective draws in the season-opening tournament. Aaron Moldoff, Andrew Murano and Chuckie Kerkesner each claimed third-place finishes, while Rob King and Adam Schroeder nabbed fourth.
Moldoff, seeded fifth, took third at 125 with a record of 4-1. The freshman began his first career tournament on a high note with a fall in 3:24 over Gettysburg's Matt Laux, before scoring an 8-0 major decision against Keven Hoogheem of Ursinus. After falling in the semifinals, Moldoff won two straight bouts by decision over TCNJ opponents Joe DiCarlo and Kevin Churchhill, respectively, to grab bronze.
At 149, Murano placed third after posting a 4-1 mark. Murano opened with a 14-7 decision against Liberty's Peter Crawford, followed by a 19-10 major decision over Curtis Watkins of Ursinus. He then dropped a narrow bout by decision, before again defeating Crawford, this time by major decision, and later securing a fall in 2:30 over Matthew Rust of Stevens.
Kerkesner also had an impressive career opening tournament, tallying four wins en route to third place at 285. Kerkesner notched a pair of major decision victories, sandwiched by a win by fall, to reach the semifinals, before dropping a narrow 6-4 decision to eventual champion Gaylen Edmo of USNA. The freshman then topped Ethan Stanley (USNA) and Noah Gesford (Delaware Valley) to nab third.
King and Schroeder took fourth at 157 and 174, respectively. After dropping his first round bout to Michael Hooker of USNA, King reeled off five wins a row to reach the third-place match, but was knocked off once again by Hooker and settled for fourth. Shroeder downed Hunter's Curtis Bernadeau by fall in 2:55 to open the day, followed by a 3-2 decision over TCNJ's Dylan Kelly. The sophomore was then edged by Jonathan Perkins of Liberty by decision, but bounced back with another win by fall, to reach the third-place bout.
Several other Diplomats posted multiple victories on the day. At 157, Eric Norgard shook off an opening round loss by winning five consecutive matches to reach the consolation semifinals, while Brandon Giovanetti began his F&M career with a pair of wins by decision at 141 and also eventually reached the consolation semifinals, totaling four victories on the day.
Paul Alessandrini (184), Isaiah Cromwell (197) and Alex Henry (285) each opened their sophomore campaigns with two wins, while freshmen Scott Stevens (133), Sharron Townsend (149), and Colin Gironda also notched a pair of wins for F&M.
The Diplomats are back in action next Saturday at the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md.