The College will send four wrestlers who earned titles at the Metropolitan Conference Championships at York College to the NCAA Division III Championships on Sunday.
The Lions were unable to repeat as tournament champions as the team finished in second place with 84 points, five points behind first-place host York College and 15 points ahead of third-place Hunter College. The teams were tied at 72 points, but York was able to edge out the College in the final round. The Lions had won 23 of the previous 27 titles.
The College suffered a setback when sophomore Ray Sarinelli separated his shoulder during one of his matches. Sarinelli held a 4-1 lead and would have earned the team more points to add to its total and edge York College for first place.
“We didn’t catch one break,” head coach Dave Icenhower said. “That hurt us pretty badly and cost us the tournament.”
Senior Brian Dempsey, at 125 pounds, was the first of the Lions’ four champions, winning all three of his matches as the top seed in his respective weight class. He began with two straight pins against freshman James Anest from Montclair State University in 3:13 and sophomore Ian Mullins, captain of SUNY-Maritime, in 2:09. In the finals, Dempsey defeated freshman Kyle Flickinger of York College by a score of 5-0 to capture his third Met title. Dempsey is now 30-4 heading into the national tournament.
Ranked No. 1 at 157 pounds, Joey Galante needed two victories to win back-to-back Met titles. The Lions junior opened with a pin on Centenary College’s senior Greg Tiernery in 2:29 before defeating sophomore Takafumi Hashimoto from New York University 9-6 in the finals. The two wins put Galante at 26-3 for the season.
At 174 pounds, sophomore Jeff Harrington pulled out a 4-3 win in the finals over New York University (NYU) junior Ryan Cooley. Harrington opened the tournament with a 9-1 decision over junior Seth Wisner of Centenary. The Lions sophomore boasts an 18-4 record entering the NCAA Championships.
Heavyweight Keith Bjorhus won his third conference title in four years while earning his fourth straight invitation to the national tournament. The Lions senior opened with a pin against sophomore James Layman of NYU in 5:43 and a pin against sophomore Luke Panizzi of York in 5:16 in the semifinals. In the championship match, Bjorhus edged Michigan State University’s William Beiermeister for a 5-2 victory. By going undefeated in the tournament, Bjorhus has a 20-1 record this season.
Sophomore Lenny Goduto advanced to the finals at 165 pounds, but fell to junior Jerry Bowne of York. Goduto notched two wins in the tournament, beating Jorge Unigarro of Hunter 20-4 and sophomore Jared Duffy of Centenary 9-6.
Three other Lions finished fourth in their respective weight classes. Those wrestlers were freshman John Biango at 149, freshman Greg Osgoodby at 184 and sophomore Brett Jankos at 197.
“We’d like very much to run away with four All-Americans,” Icenhower said. “This would certainly ease the pain of losing (the Met tournament), if we come out of the nationals with four All-Americans.
Lions action continues on March 3 and 4 as Dempsey, Galante, Harrington and Bjorhus will compete for All-American honors at home in the NCAA Division III Championships held at the Student Recreation Center.