Underclassmen prove their worth

While many students were on semester break, the College’s wrestling team was grappling, slamming and pinning the competition at the annual Lions’ Invitational and the Budd Whitehill Dual Meet Challenge hosted by Lycoming College.

Freshman Chris Prihoda led the Lions by collecting a 3-0 record at 141 pounds, while senior Keith Bjorhus posted a 2-0 record at 285 pounds, keeping his undefeated season intact at 9-0.

The Lions had 10 wrestlers finish with perfect records in the non-team scoring event at the Lions’ Invitational. They faced Elizabethtown College and Messiah College on Jan. 6 at Packer Hall. The team maintained its sixth spot in the latest National Wrestling Coach’s Association (NWCA) Brute-adidas Division III rankings with strong performances at the invitational.

“We had some younger guys do some big things,” senior Brian Dempsey said. “Freshmen are starting to step up to the plate and really wrestle when we need them to wrestle.”

Coming into the Budd Whitehill Dual Meet Challenge, the top-seeded Lions opened the tournament with four straight victories to propel them into the finals. The team posted wins against Case Western Reserve with a score of 31-9 and against Thiel College by the count of 30-9. The College then finished the day with a 29-9 victory over 16th-ranked Springfield College to earn a spot in the semifinals.

The Lions won in the semis against 13th-ranked SUNY-Cortland to gain a spot in the finals, where they faced Loras College. The College, ranked sixth in the nation, lost to eighth-ranked Loras College by a score of 25-9 on Jan. 14. The defeat ended the College’s 16-game winning streak and left the team with a 6-1 record in dual meets.

Wins by sophomore Mike Somma and freshman Greg Osgoodby, along a 6-0 hammering by heavyweight Bjorhus, propelled the College to a 21-15 come-from-behind victory against SUNY-Cortland in the semifinals.

Two Lions are ranked among the nation’s elite in their respective weight classes. Junior Joey Galante is ranked first at 157 pounds in Division III competition and has an 16-3 record on the season with two pins and a pair of victories by major decision. Galante said the secret to his success is to, “just train every day, nothing special.”

Dempsey is ranked third at 125 pounds and sports a 13-2 record, with both losses coming against opponents from NCAA Division I schools. Dempsey is closing in on 100 career wins with a record of 96-36.

“I really haven’t been paying much attention to that,” Dempsey said of his record. “After coming off of two losses, I’m trying to get back into it. I’m four away, I have plenty of time for it.”

The Lions’ next match is scheduled on Jan. 26, when they will host Montclair State University at Packer Hall for a 7 p.m. matchup.