In what was too little, too late, the College’s final push came up short in its season opener against Stevens Institute of Technology by a score of 26-16.
It was a back-and-forth battle between two of the top teams in the state. In the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III preseason poll, the College and Stevens were ranked 14th and 17th, respectively, entering the match.
The College started the match off with a bang as freshman P. J. Schmidt pulled off an impressive 9-4 win at 125 pounds.
Other Lions who shined during the match included junior Dan Herr, who won at 133 pounds by a score of 16-11, and junior John Darling, who picked up a dominating 12-1 win at 157 pounds.
The Lions were down by 11 with three weight classes to go, and looking for a spark. Sophomore Omar Akel kept them alive with an 8-2 win in the 184-pound weight class.
“Going in while we were down, I was thinking, ‘Now would be a great time to score some bonus points,’” Akel said. “Afterwards, I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t make it happen.”
Senior Mike Denver continued the rally, capturing the 197-pound weight class with a 16-4 victory.
But in the final bout, the heavyweight class, Stevens sealed the victory, with freshman Tyler Maher pinning junior Trevor Salvatore as the clock ran out.
The opening loss started the Lions off at 0-1.
“Tuesday night was an opportunity to see where we need to focus and what we need to work on,” said Akel.
The College then traveled to both the East Stroudsburg Open and the annual Ursinus College Fall Brawl on Saturday. Several of the Lions wrestlers had strong showings.
In the Fall Brawl, Schmidt and freshman Joey DiCarlo had impressive performances in the 125-pound class, finishing third and fourth respectively. Juniors Austin Roberts and Dan Brill did the same in the 197-pound class.
The 165-pound class had a clutter of Lions in the top. Sophomore Zack Zotollo was third, sophomore KC Murphy was fourth, and freshman Peter Kinsella achieved fifth as the College dominated that weight class.
Freshman Matt Berry received fourth at 174 pounds and Salvatore finished strong in sixth in the heavyweight class.
At East Stroudsburg, Darling had five wins at 157 and Denver picked up four at 184.
The Lions are nevertheless staying optimistic.
“I think our lineup is still in the works, and we have a lot of experienced guys who weren’t able to compete,” Akel said. “I’m excited for them to get healthy.”
The College is back in action this Thursday as it looks to pick up its first win of the season at home against Hunter College.