EVANSTON, Ill. – Antonio Pelusi earned a pair of consolation wins to highlight a strong effort from four Franklin & Marshall wrestlers at the historic, 54th annual Midlands Championships on Thursday.
After dropping down to the wrestle backs following an opening-bout loss, Pelusi, who competed unattached, responded with back-to-back victories, including a 4-3 thriller over North Dakota's Daniel Stibral that saw the Diplomats' 2016 NCAA Qualifier deploy a match-winning takedown in the closing seconds.
In the event's second session, Pelusi faced off against Purdue's Shawn Streck, a redshirt freshman, who was one of the nation's top recruits entering into this season. Pelusi battled throughout but was ultimately unable to bounce back from an early first period takedown, ending his tournament with a 5-2 loss in the Consolation Round of 16.
Anthony Mancini took a defending NCAA National Champion to the wire before falling in sudden victory. Facing off against Ohio State's 184-punder Myles Martin, who is currently ranked No. 4 in the NCAA and became just the 15th true freshman in NCAA history last year to win a National Championship, Mancini mounted a furious comeback by battling back from a 10-5 deficit with just 1:10 remaining in the third.
The Diplomats' junior grappler registered an escape and a takedown to eventually force sudden victory, where Martin staved off the upset with a 12-10 win in SV-1. Mancini followed with a tough 15-10 loss in the consolations, fighting back with three takedowns in the third, but coming up short against South Dakota State's Martin Mueller.
Paddy Quinlan earned a victory in the 141-pound wrestle backs with a 10-3 decision over Indiana's Tommy Cash, while Robbie King competed at 165 as the bracket's No. 11 seed but was upended in a pair of hard-fought matches.
The Diplomats return to the mat on Saturday, Jan. 7 by hosting the annual David H. Lehman F&M Open at the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center on campus.