Lions prepare for ranked Wilkes, silence Cyclones

With only a handful of matches remaining, the College’s wrestlers are hitting their stride at the right time, adding another decisive victory to their already impressive record. Winning their final seven weight classes, the Lions silenced the Cyclones of Centenary College by a score of 34-7, dropping their in-state opponent to a record of 9-4. After their fourth consecutive victory, the Lions ascend to 11-1 and are ranked 18th in the National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III poll.

After junior Danny Franke’s win by forfeit at 125 pounds, the Cyclones tied the match at one with a major decision victory at 133 pounds and pulled ahead as the College’s senior captain Bill Tenpenny fell to Centenary’s Dave Alsieux at 141 pounds. The junior took the win in overtime by a score of 6-4.

Trailing in the match, fire swelled in the eyes of the Lions and they began to take charge of their home mats, refusing to surrender another victory. Sophomore John Barnett recorded a 3-1 overtime win at 149 pounds to put the College back in the driver’s seat, and they remained there for the duration of the contest.

“I feel like I wrestled decent against Centenary,” Barnett said. “My conditioning felt great, and I felt like I got my opponent pretty tired towards the end of the match, which helped me out in overtime.”

Following Barnett’s performance, the points began to pile up as junior co-captain Tyler Branham posted another solid win for the Lions at 157 pounds, taking down his opponent for the 10-5 victory. Lions’ sophomore Justin Bonitatis claimed another win for the team, scoring a 13-4 major decision at 165 pounds.

“I wrestled a strong first period, scoring four takedowns,” Bonitatis said. “My match slowed a little into the third period, but I am looking forward to getting back after it this Tuesday.”

The College continued to overpower Centenary as senior Greg Osgoodby scored a 17-1 technical fall in 4:59 in the 174 pounds weight class. Freshmen Scott Kelley (12-6), Ed Broderick (fall, 1:12) concluded the trouncing of the Cyclones were 1:12), and Kyle Falzone (12-4). The College will be tested by nationally-ranked grapplers this week when the Lions will travel across the Delaware River to face No. 19 ranked Wilkes University.

“(Centenary) was good preparation for Wilkes in the respect that we wrestled really well,” Barnett said. “We are going to have to bring the same intensity in order to make a statement on them.”

Osgoodby said, “To beat a good team like Centenary that way is always a confidence booster. Now we just need to carry the intensity we had against Centenary into our match vs. Wilkes.”

Beyond their next ranked dual-meet, the Lions have even steeper hills to climb as they begin to prepare for the Metropolitan Championships at York College on Feb. 22. “METS being a month away really excites our team,” Bonitatis said. “It is what we look forward to and the reason we train as hard as we do all year. We need to turn it up and starting getting hungry for victory.”

“The team has begun to prepare for the postseason by pushing one another as hard as we can in the room every single day,” Barnett added. “We know that if we take days off from working as hard as we can, it will affect us all in the long run. Also, there is not much of the season left so this is the time when we have to make a name for ourselves.”

Bobby Olivier can be reached at olivier6@tcnj.edu.