VMI wrestling falls in back-and-forth dual to The Citadel

vmiCompeting in front of a packed Cormack Hall, the VMI wrestling team fell in a back-and-forth battle with rival The Citadel by a 19-16 score in Southern Conference action Friday night.

While the Keydets (1-10, 0-4) won close bouts at 133, 165, 174 and 184, the Bulldogs (2-7, 1-2) won tight matches at 141, 157 and the heavyweight class to come out on top by the slim margin. The teams split the match at five bouts apiece.

After VMI’s Dalton Henderson won by a major decision at 125 and Keydet Michael Hulcher earned a decision at 133 to put VMI up 7-0, The Citadel struck back with three points at 141 as Douglas Gudenburr used a last-minute surge to prevail over VMI’s John Reed.

Reed nearly picked up his first win of the year as he entered the third period up 4-3. After a takedown to go up 6-3, Reed allowed a Gudenburr escape and takedown to tie the score with under 30 seconds left. Gudenburr nearly put Reed on his back with the takedown and logged four near-fall points to escape with the come-from-behind decision and cut the VMI lead to 7-3.

“It was a tough loss tonight,” said VMI head coach Chris Skretkowicz. “As a competitor this eats at you. I am confident with our men that we will learn from our mistakes and continue to grow as a team.”

The premier matchup of the night came at 157 pounds as No. 29 Neal Richards of VMI faced off with No. 24 Aaron Walker, who also picked up a come-from-behind win to put the Bulldogs up, 12-7, through five bouts. Ahead 4-2 after the first period and 7-3 after the second, Richards appeared poised the seal the match with two minutes left. However, Walker fought back in the final period with two escapes and was credited with two penalty points after Richards was twice called for stalling. A takedown in the final moments sealed the win for Walker as he registered the decision to put The Citadel up, 12-7.

VMI recovered nicely to win three consecutive decisions as Cade Kiely (165), Shabaka Johns (174) and Chris Beck (184) all came out on top to put the Keydets back up, 16-12, with two bouts remaining.

The Citadel worked up enough strength in the final battles to knot the score at 16 before heavyweight Joe Bexley earned a 5-1 decision over VMI’s Tommy Shea-Roop to seal the Bulldog victory.

VMI and The Citadel resume action quickly as both schools head to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, for the All-Academy Championships on Sunday. The tournament is slated for a 10 a.m. start.

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