West Point – The atmosphere was everything anyone associated with Army-Navy athletic traditions could have wanted inside Christl Arena.
Army and Navy lived up to the college wrestling and service-academy rivalries on the mat with the match coming down to the final bout and the final period.
The Black Knights needed a win from junior 157-pound Nate Lukez to clinch its first victory over Navy since 2020. Lukez seemed in control with a 1-0 lead entering the third period and on the attack for more. But, a stoppage for a potentially, dangerous move slowed Lukez’s momentum. And, Navy’s Andrew Cerniglia was ready for a counter with 45 seconds remaining. Cerniglia’s four-point move sealed a 7-2 victory and Navy’s 18-13 win.
“The atmosphere was dynamic and that’s what this rivalry deserves is that type of atmosphere,” Army coach Kevin Ward said. “Those young men that stepped out there to wrestle, they deserve to be out there in front of 2,000 people that really care about the result.
“Big-time dual meets like this come down to critical situations, an escape here, finish a takedown there. It’s rarely really big things and tonight, we had our chances. We were in position but for whatever reason, and it wasn’t a lack of effort, maybe just a little more focus, But, we have to execute in some of those positions and if we do, maybe the match is different.”
Nine of 10 contested bouts were won by decision (seven points or less). The first three matches were decided by one, two and three points. Army freshman 125-pound Ethan Berginc was the only wrestler to earn bonus points with a 12-4 major decision.
Army opened the match with victories from Dalton Harkins (165 pounds) and No, 17 Ben Pasiuk (174). Momentum turned when Navy’s David Key edged senior Sahm Abdulrazzaq 3-2 at 184 pounds to start a run of three straight wins by the Midshipmen.
Navy’s Brendan Ferratti railled for a key 7-3 win over Rich Treanor at 133 pounds.
Needing a win to keep Army’s hopes alive, freshman Trae McDaniel closed out the Black Knights’ win with a 9-4 victory over Kaemen Smith at 149.
The dual also featured a matchup of former Northern York (Pa.) teammates Kyle Swartz (Army) and Jacob Koser. Koser won 5-0.