For a record 32nd straight year, the College finished in the top 25 at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.
The team finished in ninth place overall and two of its wrestlers, sophomore Joey Galante and junior Brian Dempsey, gained All-American status. Dempsey finished in fifth place to gain his second straight All-American citation and Galante finished in fourth place to earn his first ever All-American award.
Galante and Dempsey were not the only Lions wrestlers who performed well at the national championships, held on March 4 and 5 at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
Sophomore David Icenhower, who started out as an eighth seed in the tournament, defeated the number five seed, Jared Evans of Augsburg College, in the first round of the tournament. He went on to win his next match as well before losing to the top wrestler in the quarterfinals.
Senior co-captain Nick Vinciguerra entered the tournament as the number two seed, but he suffered a tough loss, 10-9, to unseeded Matt Loesch of Muhlenberg College. Vinciguerra won his first match in the consolation round but lost in the second round, putting an end to his tournament.
Freshman Jeff Harrington was unseeded going into the 174 pound tournament, but in the first round he defeated the eighth seed, Jason Shivak of Delaware Valley College. In the second round, he was pitted against the number one seed, Joe Moon of Augsburg College, and suffered a rough 13-2 defeat. Moon went on to win the tournament.
Sean Flynn, the College’s other senior co-captain, wrapped up a strong college career with a loss in the consolation round to Ithaca College’s Marc Israel by a score of 6-1. Flynn finished his career at the College with a 104-41 record.
Junior heavyweight Keith Bjorhus lost in the opening round of the tournament. He won his first match of the consolation round before suffering a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Tommy Snyder of Lycoming College.
Galante and Dempsey were the stars of the weekend. For Galante, gaining All-American status was a great way to finish up the season. “I knew coming into the tournament I would do okay if I caught some breaks and just kept wrestling,” Galante said. “Being an All-American makes me feel really good and just puts the season in perspective.”
As for the performance of the team overall, Galante was certainly not upset with the ninth-place finish, but he would have been happier with a better finish. “We had a decent tournament overall, just a tough All-American round,” Galante said. “We were not happy with ninth because we are always aiming for top five.”
Harrington used his appearance in nationals as a learning experience because there are hopefully more to come in his future. “Being on such a big stage was pretty intimidating at first,” Harrington said. “But after practicing there for the first few days and getting used to the environment, I was OK.”
Now that the 2005 season is over, the team can start to look forward to next year. Dempsey says that although the team will be losing some key seniors, the talented youth will be able to carry the team next year.
“I think once we get some confidence in our younger guys, we will be pretty tough,” Dempsey said.