By Connor Smith
The Lions will be celebrating 50 years of wrestling on Wednesday, Nov. 11, as the team opens its 2015-16 season against Stevens Institute of Technology at 7:30 p.m. in the Packer Hall gymnasium.
Coach Joe Galante enters his fifth season with the team, as they look to improve on a 12-9 dual meet record from last season. The team finished 17th in the NCAA Division III Championships last season while fielding two all All-American athletes. The College has had an NCAA finalist each of the first four years under Galante’s tenure.
“I expect us to wrestle well, score a lot of points, and have fun,” said Galante.
Although they will be without 2015 NCAA Division III National Runner-up, Zach Zotollo who graduated in May, the team will see the return of a strong senior class led by 2015 All-American, Antonio Mancella.
“Mancella has worked extremely hard this year,” Galante said. “There’s also Academic All-American, sophomore Ryan Budzek.”
The team also fields a motivated freshman class which includes 2015 high school N.J. State Qualifiers, Ryan Erwin and JT Beirne, who will look to prove themselves at the collegiate level.
They will face tough opponents such as Messiah College and Wilkes University, who are both ranked in the top eight of NCAA’s Division III coaches poll. The Lions will have a lot to prove if they wish to eclipse their 2015 campaign.
The 2016 Division III Championship will be held in the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, March 11, and the team will look for the chance to compete with the nation’s best.
“Look at all of our weight classes as guys that can do more,” Galante said. “Any one of our guys has the ability to beat anyone they might not have the edge against on paper.”