By Connor Smith
Social Media Editor
The wrestling team capped off its 2015-2016 season by competing hard in the NCAA Division III Championships on Friday, March 11, and Saturday, March 12, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Although no Lions won their opening bouts, senior Doug Hamann managed a tremendous run in the wrestleback bracket to secure an eighth-place finish and earn All-American honors.
“We had a great season,” head coach Joe Galante said. “We won a lot of dual meets, had four east regional finalists and a champ… For the past 46 years, we’ve had an All-American at NCAAs. We believe in academics and athletics, and I couldn’t be more proud of our team’s efforts.”
The College began the tournament on Friday, March 11, when sophomore Ryan Budzek grappled with tough opponents and adversity in the 141 competition. Despite Budzek’s best efforts, the young wrestler was forced to cut his run short in the wrestleback bracket, forfeiting the bout due to injury.
“(Budzek) is a tough wrestler and a good person,” Galante said. “If he applies those attributes to wrestling, good things will happen. If he applies it to life, there is no telling what he could accomplish.”
Senior Antonio Mancella wrapped up a memorable wrestling career at 157. Mancella was sent to the wrestleback bracket following a 7-2 decision. Fighting off elimination, Mancella managed a 10-3 victory, but the veteran eventually fell 5-4, ending his hopes for back-to-back All-American honors.
“Antonio had a great career for the Lions,” Galante said. “He was an All-American, two-time NCAA qualifier and two-time NCAA East Regional finalist. He led by showing and doing. We will miss having him on the team.”
At 165, junior Nick Herring wrestled close, but was edged out by a tight 3-2 decision. Herring ended his season by dropping a 7-4 decision in wrestlebacks, closing out the season with a 22-5 record, which included an NCAA Eastern Regional Championship.
With the College’s hopes of an All-American on his back, Hamann bounced back from an early 12-4 major decision to carve out an eighth-place finish through the wrestleback bracket.
“Doug did a fantastic job rebounding from a tough opening match,” Galante said. “He was trained to handle adversity and did just that.”
Although this is Hamann’s senior year at the College, he is athletically eligible to return next season due to a year lost to injury. Hamann will serve as a veteran presence, filling the massive shoes of Mancella.
With the College’s 46th straight year of winning a national citation secured, the Lions will have another eight months to eat, train and prepare for their 2016-2017 campaign. Although they will be without the veteran presence of seniors Mancella, Jimmy Gill, Stephen Schneider and Joe Paton, the Lions should feel confident riding on a mixture of budding young talent and seasoned competitors.