Although the College already had the match well in hand by the time junior heavyweight Keith Bjorhus had to wrestle on Sunday, he certainly gave those faithful Lions fans who stuck around until the end quite a treat.
The College squared off against Springfield College on Sunday in a match that pitted the sixth and eighth-ranked teams in the country, respectively, against each other. The Lions went into the match with a 12-3 dual match record and Springfield was 9-2.
Head coach David Icenhower knew it was going to be a struggle. “Coming into the match,” he said, “there were two bouts we felt that we guaranteed wins and two in which we were pretty sure we were going to lose. This meant there were six toss-ups and whoever won those would win the match.”
Junior Brian Dempsey started off the match right for the College in his 125-pound bout. He defeated junior Derek McNerney 12-0, earning himself and his team a major decision that gave the Lions a 4-0 lead. Other winners in the early bouts for the College included sophomore Dave Icenhower Jr., sophomore Joey Galante and senior captain Sean Flynn.
Perhaps the most important win of the day was in the 174-pound bout in which senior Pat Lavin was able to hold off Springfield freshman Elliot Smith 9-8. Coach Dave Icenhower was thrilled with Lavin’s win.
“Pat has had a bit of an up and down career,” Icenhower said. “His opponent (Smith) was one of the most recruited wrestlers at his weight class coming out of high school. It was a really big win for Pat and I’d have to say that he was the hero of the day.”
Lavin’s win gave the College a 16-9 lead, and then senior Nick Vinciguerra sealed the win for the College with his win over senior Jason Leckey.
Going into the final heavyweight bout, the Lions held a 19-9 lead, making it mathematically impossible for Springfield to win, but Bjorhus did not hold back at all. He squared off against senior Scott Fay, who he had lost to on three previous meetings. Bjorhus started off the bout quickly with a two-point takedown but by the middle of the second period, Fay had taken the lead back.
Fay attempted a tilt on Bjorhus, in which he tried to expose Bjorhus for a shot but Bjorhus was ready for it. He put Fay into a headlock and had him on his back in a matter of seconds. The referee blew the whistle, giving Bjorhus the pin and the Lions the match, 25-9. Bjorhus was excited about his win and is ready to look ahead to the important weeks coming up.
“(Fay) has certainly had my number in the past, but today I was able to get him,” Bjorhus said. “He’s the sixth-ranked wrestler in the nation at his weight class, so this was a big win for me and the team. We’ve only had our full lineup in for a couple of weeks now because of injuries, but this just shows how good we can really be.”
Flynn was thrilled with Bjorhus and the team’s victory, as were the rest of his teammates. “It was a real tight match, and we all knew it was going to be,” Flynn said. “Every match was a battle but we were able to come out on top. Keith’s win was huge and hopefully we can keep this going.”
The Lions’ win over Springfield capped off an excellent weekend for them. On Saturday, the College took part in the New England-Metro Duals which were held at Montclair State University. The Lions defeated all three teams they faced, which were from Williams College, Roger Williams University and Worchester Polytechnic Institute.
Coming up this weekend, the Lions will be at home on Saturday to take on SUNY-Oswego and on Sunday they will travel to Pennsylvania to wrestle the University of Scranton and Wilkes University.