They appeared to be superior.
They were seeded. They had better records. They were expected to win. They were the favorites.
They gave in.
Senior Dan DiColo did not, and as he faced each highly ranked opponent, he wrestled on, often waiting until the final moments to claim his victory. These last few moments would eventually grant DiColo a sixth-place national finish and All-America honors.
“Dan is a hard-working kid,” head coach David Icenhower said. “If you do not wrestle him for the full seven minutes, you’re in trouble.”
DiColo was one of five Lions who made the trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for the NCAA Division III National Championships, held in the U.S. Cellular Center.
Although each of the College’s wrestlers in the tournament had strong showings in the Metropolitan Conference Championships, which gained them spots on the national stage, only DiColo made it out of the first round. Senior Tyler Branham, sophomore Justin Bonitatis, freshman Scott Kelley and sophomore Ed Broderick all fell in the opening rounds of their respective weight classes before falling again in their consolation brackets.
“They did what they were predicted to do,” Icenhower said. “I felt like they could have done more and hopefully they can do more next year.”
While the rest of his teammates succumbed to their seeded foes, DiColo fought on, creating upset after upset.
DiColo began his tournament by defeating Gettysburg College’s Andrew Goldstein 7-6. Goldstein was seeded fourth with a regular season record of 31-0 heading into the match. Just as he narrowly defeated Goldstein, DiColo narrowly fell to fifth-seeded Jesse Milks of University of Wisconsin-Platteville by a score of 4-3.
Facing his third consecutive seeded opponent, DiColo squared off against sixth-seeded Erik Hanson of Loras College and pulled out another 7-6 win in the match’s final moments. The senior then moved on to Ithaca College’s eighth-seeded William Horwath and prevailed with a 5-0 win.
“What gave me my edge was the ton of work I put in during the summer and during the whole regular season,” DiColo said. “Not only do I push myself as hard as I can, but I have my coaches and teammates pushing me as well. Every match is going to be close and you need to have the courage to win the close ones.”
In the consolation semi-finals, DiColo was undone in an 8-0 shutout versus Augsburg College’s Jason Adams, the third seed. Fighting for fifth place overall, DiColo ended his season with a rematch against Milks who
claimed victory again, besting DiColo 4-2. DiColo finishes the season 31-7, his second straight 30-win season.
The 2009 wrestling season has come to a close for the College as they finish with a record of 16-1-1 and five Academic All-Americans. These five, who achieved at least a 3.2 GPA and represented the College in at least 50 percent of their matches, were DiColo, Branham, sophomore John Barnett and seniors Greg Osgoodby and John Dinan.
The Lions will soon begin a weight lifting program and start to prepare for the next season. “Now that this season is over I plan on taking a break from wrestling for a month or so but then getting back on the mat and in the weight room to get ready for next year,” DiColo said. “Although I’m happy with becoming an All-American, I always push myself to be the best and that means winning a national title.”
Bobby Olivier can be reached at email@example.com.