By Connor Smith
The Lions began their wrestling season strong on Wednesday, Nov. 11, with a decisive 28-10 victory over Stevens Institute of Technology and kept the momentum on Saturday, Nov. 14, at Ursinus College’s Fall Brawl, where five competitors placed for the finish.
The team battled in front of a packed Packer Hall crowd, including 65 wrestling alumni who were honored before the match as part of the College’s wrestling program celebrating its 50 year history.
“We circled this day on our calendar,” coach Joe Galante said. “This was really important for us to get off to a good start.”
Stevens took an early 4-0 lead, scoring a major decision in the 125 weight class, but sophomore James Goldschmidt responded immediately with an impressive 3:14 win by fall at 133.
“I knew it was going to be a tough battle at 125,” Galante said. “Getting the pin at 133 really got the momentum going.”
After claiming a 6-4 lead, the Lions never looked back. Sophomore Ryan Budzek followed it up with a victory by decision at 141. Senior Steven Schneider then battled to win a decision at 149, extending the Lions’ lead to 12-4.
At 157, senior Antonio Mancella fought hard to secure a victory by decision, bringing the lead to 14-5.
“I knew it was important,” Mancella said. “I just wanted to win for the team.”
Junior Nick Herring (wrestling at 165) and senior Doug Hamann (174) helped improve the lead to 18-4 by both scoring decisions.
“One-hundred-sixty-five was a little bit of a surprise in that we dominated their wrestler,” Galante said. “Their wrestler won a tournament last weekend, and I thought we were going to get a little more out of him.”
Junior Dan Wojtaszek capped off the streak by scoring a major decision at 184.
The Ducks chipped the lead down to 25-10 with a 6:57 DQ victory at 197, but heavyweight sophomore Kyle Cocozza put Stevens away by scoring a decision, making the final score, 28-10, in favor of the College.
“They had a tough freshman come out and wrestle our All-American,” Galante said.
Mancella’s bout was among the most exciting and well-fought from both sides.
“Everyone jokes, ‘It’s like wrestling with yourself,’ because we wrestle very similarly,” Mancella said. “He wrestled tough.”
The Lions’ demonstrated their preparation throughout their match with Stevens.
“It’s always a big match between us and Stevens,” Mancella said. “We put a lot of focus on this match in particular across the team.”
The Lions carried their momentum into the Ursinus College Fall Brawl on Saturday, where the team entered 18 wrestlers, and fielded five place winners overall.
Sophomore Constantine Rissiotis bounced back from his DQ against Stevens by winning the title at 197. Hamman also followed up his strong start by winning the title at 174.
Herring and Wojtaszek earned second place honors in their respective weights while freshman Ryan Erwin began his collegiate career with a strong fourth place finish.
Rivera, Budzek, Cocozza and sophomore Kellen Whitney all won three matches.
The Lions will look to keep their impressive start going on Wednesday, Nov. 18, when they matchup against King’s College on the road in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. at 7 p.m.
“My end goal is NCAA’s top eight podium,” Mancella said. “I’m just trying to get better every match.”