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Xiaoyin Chen for Spectator

Senior Steve Santos reaches a high point of his athletic career, bringing home a championship.

Light Blue wrestling brought home the hardware from the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships in Piscataway, N.J. this weekend. Columbia came away not only with an overall eighth-place finish, but also with four NCAA automatic-qualifying bids and five total place winners.

The star of the tournament was senior Steve Santos, who wrestled his way to the 149-pound title with a 7-2 victory over Army's David Young. This historic victory makes Santos the first individual EIWA Champion for Columbia since 2009, and the 19th ever in program history.

Meanwhile, a strong supporting cast—junior Matt Bystol, 133 pounds; junior Josh Houldsworth, 165 pounds; and senior Jake O'Hara, 157 pounds—finished second, second, and fourth in their respective weight classes, receiving NCAA bids along with Santos. Junior Penn Gottfried rounded out the top-10 finishes for Columbia with an eighth-place showing in the 125-pound class.

The Lions' combined 75 points brought them up to eighth place, but the individual performances more accurately represented Columbia's accomplishments. It was a historic weekend for the Light Blue, as the team hasn't sent four wrestlers to NCAAs since 2007. Overall, Columbia exceeded expectations, topping higher-ranked opponents.

The tournament also recognized Columbia off the mat with the Team Sportsmanship Award, granted by the EIWA mat officials.

The NCAA Championships will take place in Des Moines from March 21-23.

sports@columbiaspectator.com | @CUspecsports

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