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UALR wrestlers fall just short of Stanford

by Mitchell Gladstone | January 29, 2023 at 3:55 a.m.
UALR's Joseph Bianchi, top, wrestles Stanford's Luciano Arroyo during a dual at the Jack Stephens Center on the UALR campus on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023. See more photos at (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Colin Murphey)

The public address announcer inside the Jack Stephens Center made sure everyone in attendance knew the stakes as the final bout began late Saturday afternoon in Little Rock.

Stanford 16, University of Arkansas-Little Rock 14.

Whichever team won the heavyweight matchup would win the dual wrestling meet.

As the clock wound into the final 30 seconds, Trojans Coach Neil Erisman crept toward the side of the mat. UALR's Josiah Hill and the Cardinal's Peter Ming -- deadlocked at 1-1 -- eyed each other down, both knowing a takedown would all but ensure victory for their team.

For a moment, Erisman thought Hill was going to make the all-important move

It was Ming, however, who delivered.

The final takedown secured a 19-14 victory for Stanford over UALR, preventing a Trojan comeback that nearly featured wins in the dual's last two bouts.

Brothers Joey and Matty Bianchi earned decisions at 149 and 157 pounds, respectively, staking UALR to an 11-6 lead, but the Cardinal won four of the final five bouts to snatch away the Trojans' hopes of a Pac-12 Conference win.

"You have very little margin of error in wrestling, and it becomes a lot smaller when you wrestle to not lose," Erisman said. "There were probably two or three weights, maybe four weights where we're holding on to win. ... When you wrestle to win, you widen that gap and good things happen, even after bad moments."

Stanford (4-4, 1-1 Pac-12) forfeited at 125 pounds to open the match, putting UALR up 6-0 instantly before winning at 133 and 141 pounds to even things at 6-6.

That set the stage for the Bianchis, with Joey winning comfortably against Luciano Arroyo as the elder of the two Bianchi brothers logged two takedowns in the first 90 seconds and racked up more than two minutes of riding time in the opening period.

After Joey's 11-6 win, Matty followed with a much more competitive bout. Against No. 24 Charlie Darracott, Matty Bianchi entered the third period tied at 3-3 before Darracott escaped to go up 4-3. Bianchi then logged a go-ahead takedown with a minute remaining in the bout and a trio of cautions on Darracott -- the second of which came after the referee reversed his initial decision following a replay review -- pushed the younger Bianchi to an 8-5 win.

"Seeing Joey go out there and get a great win, I knew that there was not a lot of time left in the season and when I get these ranked guys, I've got to make the most of it," Matty Bianchi said. "I knew this would be a huge win and I just kept repeating to myself, 'The time is now.'"

The only win the rest of the way for the Trojans came in the penultimate bout when 197-pounder Stephen Little logged a takedown inside the final five seconds against No. 25 Nick Stemmet. The true freshman from Sturgis, Ky., had not competed in a dual for UALR (3-7, 0-2) prior to Saturday.

"He showed some real big heart, a little banged-up going into that match, and found a way to get it done," Erisman said of Little. "There were probably three different [takedown] scenarios that if he wasn't a little banged-up, he would have won those as well."

But as Erisman emphasized, it was the small things that cost the Trojans Saturday, and while Hill had an opportunity to wipe his team's mistakes away in the closing seconds of the dual, UALR rued missed chances to lock down a win long before.

"If we finish our matches strong ... our record is flip-flopped," Erisman said. "We win five or six matches against certain teams and we win the dual, but when you look at the score, it's different.

"[We can't] hold on to win. And I know that seems like I'm beating a dead horse, but you can't get up a couple of takedowns, put guys to their back, almost get takedowns and shut it down."

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College wrestling

Stanford 19, UALR 14

125 pounds: Jeremiah Reno (UALR) wins by forfeit

133 pounds: Jackson Disario (Stanford) over Joshua Sarpy (UALR), Dec. 8-2

141 pounds: Jason Miranda (Stanford) over Brennan Van Hoecke (UALR), Dec. 15-10

149 pounds: Joseph Bianchi (UALR) over Luciano Arroyo (Stanford), Dec. 11-6

157 pounds: Matthew Bianchi (UALR) over Charlie Darracott (Stanford), Dec. 8-5

165 pounds: Shane Griffith (Stanford) over Tyler Brennan (UALR), Dec. 4-0

174 pounds: Tyler Eischens (Stanford) over Triston Wills (UALR), Dec. 9-4

184 pounds: Brook Byers (Stanford) over Mason Diel (UALR), MD 19-6

197 pounds: Stephen Little (UALR) over Nick Stemmet (Stanford), Dec. 7-5

285 pounds: Peter Ming (Stanford) over Josiah Hill (UALR), Dec. 5-1

UALR was deducted 1 team point for a violation by the bench


 Gallery: College Wrestling: UALR vs Stanford

Print Headline: UALR wrestlers fall just short of Stanford


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