The College’s wrestling team captured the Metropolitan Conference team title and crowned three individual champions at the Metropolitan Conference (METs) Championships Sunday at Packer Hall.
Senior Joe Galante (157 pounds), sophomore Greg Osgoodby (174 pounds) and freshman Tyler Branham (141 pounds) all won conference championships in their respective weight classes. Winning the conference means an automatic birth into the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships held on March 2-3 at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.
“It feels really good,” Branham said. “I know I still have three more years and my goal was just to make it to nationals this year. But now that I’m here I want to look to be an All-American.”
The College edged last year’s champion, York College, 89.5-83. Head coach David Icenhower was also named the conference coach of the year.
“(Icenhower) deserves it because we did a lot with a little this year,” Galante said. “We had a lot of young guys; there’s only two seniors on the team and we went 19-1 as our dual team record and we won a couple of tournaments. We made a lot of strides this year, so I think it’s real nice for Coach.”
Senior Mike Guenther (165 pounds) and juniors Ray Sarinelli (133 pounds) and Steve Carbone (285 pounds) all took second-place honors. Guenther and Sarinelli earned two of the tournament’s seven wild card selections into the championships, which are decided upon by the coaches.
The Lions are currently ranked No. 8 in the Brute/National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III national team rankings with their 19-1 dual-meet record.
As the first seed in his weight class, Galante cruised through two matches – one by pin, the other by a 12-6 decision – before facing York sophomore John Niedrich. An escape early in the third period gave Galante a 3-2 lead and two takedowns sealed the deal at 5-3. The title is Galante’s third METs Championship of his career.
“I took bottom third, so I wanted to get out and get a takedown and try to increase my lead,” Galante said. “A three-point swing is big, especially if he doesn’t get out. I was just trying to escape and get a takedown without giving up riding time. I was just trying to push the pace and trying to get my takedowns. I was trying to stay after him.”
Branham’s road to the finals, also as a top seed, was similarly unproblematic before he squared off with Wilkes University junior Adam Penberthy. Branham fought off an early shot from Penberthy and reversed it to gain a 2-0 lead.
“The first takedown is always big and I knew he had the dump that I got hit with, and he got in real deep and it was a big scramble,” Branham said. “But I knew I wanted to come out and get the first takedown.”
A reversal in the second period gave Branham a 4-0 lead, and he withstood a late takedown to win the match by a 5-2 decision.
Osgoodby sailed through his weight class, winning every match by at least a five-point margin. In the finals, Osgoodby defeated Centenary College senior Seth Wisner by technical fall 18-3. Going into the match, Osgoodby was the No. 7 ranked wrestler in the nation at 174 pounds.
Even though three other Lions lost their championship matches, each second place finisher’s performance was impressive considering the fact that each lost to a nationally ranked opponent.
Both Sarinelli and Guenther are nationally ranked, but lost extremely close matches. No. 5 ranked Sarinelli lost his championship match in the final moments to No. 1 Dan Morgan, a junior at King’s College. With the score tied 1-1, Morgan scored a takedown with less than 30 seconds remaining in the match and hung on for a 3-2 victory.
Guenther, ranked No. 4 nationally, was upset by No. 7 Jerry Bowne, a York senior, by a 3-2 decision. Guenther held the lead 2-0 after scoring the first takedown, but a Bowne escape and subsequent takedown clinched the match. Guenther won an exciting semifinal match against Centenary College junior Jared Duffy to reach the finals. After almost three scoreless periods, Guenther earned a takedown and two back points with 20 seconds remaining and rode out a Duffy reversal in the final seconds to earn a 4-2 win.
Carbone – the College’s final second-place finisher – lost to No. 2 nationally ranked Arkadiy Levitin, a junior from Hunter College, by a 12-5 decision. Carbone also displayed some heroics in his 3-1 semifinal win by scoring a takedown of King’s junior James Bishop with only three seconds left in overtime.