Lions begin season with third-place finish at Ithaca

Unable to defend last year’s first-place finish, the College’s wrestling team opened the season by finishing third in the Ithaca College Invitational Tournament this weekend. After two days, 17 teams and a fifth-place standing after the first day, the team finished 139.5 points behind first-place Springfield College.

One of the highlights of the tournament was when senior co-captain Nick Vinciguerra had a 4-0 victory at 197 pounds to become the College’s lone champion of the weekend. He is ranked No. 6 nationally in the preseason poll and was seeded first in his weight class at Ithaca.

Head coach David Icenhower said he hopes Vinciguerra, who had a 28-4 record last year, one point away from earning All-American honors, will earn honors this year. Icenhower said one of his season goals is “to have as many All-Americans as possible.”

Another bright spot of the tournament, according to Icenhower, was when junior Brian Dempsey had a runner-up finish at 125 pounds.

“I was very impressed by the performance of Brian,” Icenhower said. Dempsey lost to No. 1 seeded junior Jason Peck of SUNY Cortland in a 4-3 overtime decision.

“I knew coming in it was going to be a tough match,” Dempsey said. “I wrestled him last year in the same tournament with the same exact scenario and outcome.”

Nationally, Peck is ranked second and Dempsey is ranked seventh. Earning All-American honors a year ago, Dempsey went 3-1 in the tournament and has now upped his career record at the College to 46-23.

The College had three more runner-up finishes for the tournament and a total of eight finishers for the weekend. Seeded first in his bracket, junior Paul Vaccaro took second at 184 pounds, going 3-1 in the tournament. He is ranked sixth nationally and is 76-19 for his career.

Junior heavyweight contender Keith Bjorhus also placed second with a record of 4-1, losing only to top-seeded senior Scott Fay of Springfield. In his first match, Bjorhus pinned freshman Nick Brait in 36 seconds to amass his career total to 18 pins.

A sophomore transfer from Rider University, fifth-seeded Joey Galante, was the runner-up at 157 pounds in his College debut, going 5-1 in the tournament.

“Early in the season we’re obviously not at optimum competing level, but we made great strides and wrestled effectively,” Galante said.

The two third-place finishes for the weekend were racked up by senior co-captain Sean Flynn at 165 pounds and junior Pat Brady at 141 pounds. Ranked nationally at No. 7, Flynn defeated senior John Capen of Norwich University 11-3 to take third and go 5-1 in the tournament and is now 86-31 on his career.

Brady, after defeating sophomore Mark DeCiccio of Springfield, did not wrestle in the consolation round. He is ranked third nationally.

The two other place finishes were by senior Pat Lavin at 184 pounds, who took fifth place, and sophomore Antonio Crespo, who picked up sixth place. Lavin finished 5-3 for the weekend while Crespo went 3-2.

“I see these tournaments as a preseason and a building block for the season to come,” Icenhower said.