Pins and wins: Lions reach milestone

Following their 600th victory coupled with a pair of ranked wins, the College’s wrestling team is riding high on its way to the postseason.

“To be part of a team that has 600 career wins is amazing,” senior Greg Osgoodby said. “To win 600 matches speaks volumes about the coaches and the student athletes that take pride in TCNJ Wrestling tradition and it is a honor to be part of that tradition.”

The Lions would reach this milestone in their second match of the New England/Metropolitan Conference Duals hosted by Hunter College on Saturday.

Squaring off against unranked Roger Williams University, the No. 18 Lions left little doubt on the mats that they were the superior squad as they ravaged the Hawks, 31-9. After junior Danny Franke fell 9-7 at 125 pounds to begin the match, the Lions rebounded by rattling off eight consecutive victories to devastate the RWU sideline.

During this rout, the College recorded two pin falls, courtesy of sophomore Justin Bonitatis at 165 pounds (2:15) and freshman Scott Kelley at 184 pounds (0:44). Other wins for the Lions included senior Bill Tenpenny at 141 pounds (9-2), sophomore John Barnett at 149 pounds (6-0) and Osgoodby at 174 pounds (6-0).

Freshman Kyle Falzone fell in the final battle of the match by a score of 11-8 at 285 pounds, but the College had made their mark in history a decisive one.

Prior to their milestone victory, the Lions were on the mats earlier on Saturday matching up against a considerably tougher opponent. No. 26-ranked Williams College gave them an obvious challenge, but the College’s grapplers persevered and stole the victory from the Ephs 24-12.

“The team performed well this weekend at the duals,” senior Tyler Branham said. “It is always nice to knock off another ranked team such as Williams, and it is more impressive that we did so with some guys out of the lineup.”

After the first five of 10 matches, the Lions had fallen behind, but a three-match surge completed by Bonitatis, Osgoodby and Kelley gave them the lead as they each went undefeated on the day. A heavyweight pinfall victory by sophomore Ed Broderick at 2:35 sealed the win for the Lions as they looked ahead to another ranked match on the following day.

The College’s Packer Hall was the site of the Lions’ third match in two days as they celebrated Senior Day with an impressive win over visiting No. 27-ranked Springfield College.

The Lions handed their opponents an embarrassing loss as they tore into the Pride for a 47-6 victory and improved their record to 14-1-1. The College finishes their home schedule with a flawless 4-0 record and is now 7-1-1 against ranked opponents.

On this day, seniors Jon Biango, John Dinan and co-captain Dan DiColo were honored while Osgoodby and Branham fought to display why they were being recognized as well. In proper fashion, each of the two seniors won, Osgoodby by a technical fall at 5:13 (17-1) and Branham by pin fall at 3:24. Younger Lions followed suit as they took every weight class, excluding heavyweight.

As the Lions continue to impress critics and reach milestones, another moment is approaching for the men in blue and gold. It is not an award or accolade for the team, as it is an achievement for their leader, head coach David Icenhower. Icenhower now has a career record of 497-78-4 at the College and is only three wins away from the prolific accomplishment of 500, a feat only achieved by two other coaches at the Division III level.

“I am proud for the program and proud for the school,” Icenhower said regarding the upcoming landmark. “It says that we had a lot of success and done things right for a long time.”

The Lions will attempt to give their coach two of those wins as they travel to the University of Scranton on Saturday to take on their hosts as well as Oswego State University.

Beyond their upcoming matches, the Lions are looking ahead toward their postseason schedule. Following a two-week matchless streak after the upcoming Scranton contest, the College will return to York, Pa., for the Metropolitan Championships held on Feb. 22.

After the Mets, another two weeks will pass before the Lions will send the finest to wrestle at the NCAA Divison III Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, beginning March 6.

“We are moving into individual tournaments,” Icenhower said. “We are concentraing on getting individual champions and All-Americans.”

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