College sends 8 wrestlers to NCAA Championships

The College’s wrestling team capped off its weekend with six champions in the 2003 Metropolitan Conference Championships (MET).

After Sunday’s championships at Montclair State University (MSU), the Lions will send eight wrestlers to the 2003 NCAA National Championships.

Brothers Greg and Dave Ilaria will travel to the NCAA’s after exemplary performances on Sunday.

Senior Dave Ilaria went 3-0 at the tournament, winning the finals by a 14-2 major decision over Hunter College’s Cliff Medina.

Dave Ilaria was a Division I qualifier while a freshman at Seton Hall University, but this will be his first appearance at NCAA’s for the Lions.

Sunday’s title marks his 100th career win and a 6th place ranking nationally. Dave Ilaria was also named Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament.

Junior Greg Ilaria was also named champion in the 157-lb bout, in which he defeated Hunter’s Joe Lovello by decision.

Also a former wrestler for Seton Hall University, Greg Ilaria brought his season record to (31-5.)

Junior P.J. Morreale went undefeated on Sunday, as he posted a win by decision in the finals. Morreale is ranked No. 8 nationally at 141 lbs. and will advance to NCAAs.

At 125 lbs, James Marrero defeated top seed Jason Custer of York College in an overtime match. Marrero, a senior, was a 2002 National Qualifier and returns this year to the NCAAs.

The 174-lb match once again pitted MSU junior Eduard Aliakseyenka against College rookie Paul Vaccaro.

Defending national champion Aliakseyenka defeated No. 6 ranked Vaccaro with a major decision. Vaccaro leads Division III in wins and advances on a wild card bid.

In the 197-lb match, senior Rich Gildner picked up his first MET Championship title after three seasons of finishing as runner-up. In the final round, Gildner pinned NYU’s Ilya Panchernikov in 3:18 to clinch the title and advance to the NCAAs.

Off the mat, Coach Dave Icenhower was named MET Coach of the Year for the second time consecutively and for the 12th time over all.

In his 27th season at the College, Icenhower boasts a 396-68-3 dual record.

He is responsible for coaching the Lions to five Division III Championships and 133 All-Americans. Icenhower credits hard work and team effort for the season’s success.

“This had been one of our better dual-meet teams than in recent years,” Icenhower said. “The team works hard for success as a unit. We didn’t have one superstar to fall back on, so the pressure was shared.”

The Lions enter the NCAA tournament ranked fourth by the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III Brute/Adidas national poll. The championships will be held March 7-8 at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.

“METs showed how good we are locally,” Icenhower said. “We expect to be in the top five with five to seven All-Americans.”