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Wrestling jumps to a quick start at ESU

The Bears opened their season this weekend at the 47th annual East Stroudsburg University Open Wrestling Tournament hosted by East Stroudsburg University in eastern Pennsylvania. Eight members of the team placed in the competition, four of whom placed in the top three in their respective weight classes.

“The attitude is very different on the team this year. Everyone is really positive and hungry for success,” said Ophir Bernstein ’15. “We are motivated for practice and tournaments — we want to show everyone that we can compete at the top level.”

“I’m just excited to see these guys compete,” said Head Coach Todd Beckerman. “They have been putting in lots of hours practicing — I can’t wait to see what’s in store.”

Billy Watterson ’15, a former Herald contributing writer, started the tournament strong for the Bears with a 10-0 decision over ESU’s Anthony Marino, continuing on to win the rest of his matches. Watterson finished 5-0 and took home a first-place finish at 125 pounds, ending the day as Brown’s lone champion.

Co-captain Cortlandt Choate ’14 took home second at 149 pounds after defeating four opponents, but lost his only match against the Delaware Valley College Aggies’ Vincent Fava in a 3-1 sudden victory.

At the 157-pound weight class, Justin Staudenmayer ’17 finished second in his first tournament as a Bear. Staudenmeyer defeated five of his opponents for the day, but received his sole loss of the tournament in his class’ championship match against the Penn Quakers’ Raamiah Bethea in a 4-1 deficit.

In a third-place finish, co-captain Bernstein defeated his first three opponents of the tournament before suffering his only loss of the tournament against Penn’s Lorenzo Thomas in a 10-6 decision. Bernstein responded with a pin against the College of New Jersey’s Brian Broderick after one minute of match time to take third.

This season marks Beckerman’s inaugural campaign after being named head wrestling coach this past June. Before coming to Brown, he spent eight seasons as the head assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for University of Maryland.

During his time at College Park, Beckerman helped the Terrapins to four Atlantic Coast Conference Championships in the past eight years. Two Maryland wrestlers have been named ACC Wrestler of the Year and another 38 wrestlers have received All-ACC honors since 2006.

As a student-athlete at the University of Nebraska, Beckerman received back-to-back All-American honors in 2000 and 2001. As a senior, he was named team captain, and he was named Nebraska Male Athlete of the Year and Husker Power Lifter of the Year during his last season as a Husker.

Brown “is a special place — I want to help these wrestlers be successful on and off the mat,” Beckerman said. “I love it here — great school, great campus (and) great community.”

Earlier this month, Beckerman named Bernstein, Choate and Ricky McDonald ’15 as captains for the season.

This past summer, Bernstein competed at the FILA Junior World Wrestling Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, where he represented Israel and finished with a silver medal. Last season, Bernstein finished 26-10, and he placed third at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships.

“I spent over one month training in Israel,” Bernstein said. “I was able to place second in the world championships. It was the highlight of my summer.”

Choate looks to take on a captain role after a junior year season that included a major decision victory at the EIWA Championships.

McDonald looks to build on his strong performances against Sacred Heart and Boston University from last season, and help the team achieve its best this season.

Bruno returns to action this Saturday, when the team travels to Annapolis, Md., to compete in the Navy Classic hosted by the Navy Midshipmen.

“We will look at what we did wrong, and how we could improve,” Bernstein said. “We will only get better, as long as we put in the time and learn from our mistakes, everything will take care of itself.”

“You learn from every week — there are lots of technical areas that need work,” Beckerman said. “This week we will get into those areas and refine those techniques.”