Lions claim title at Budd Whitehill Duals

Lions’ grapplers compete on their way to title in the Budd Whitehill Duals. (Photo courtesy of Tim Lee)

As the College’s student body wipes the sleep from its collective eyes and prepares to begin a new semester, the Lions can finally get some rest.

After competing in seven dual meets in a five-day span, it is reasonable to consider that the College may have come out a bit flat-footed in the final round of the Budd Whitehill Duals hosted by Lycoming College on Saturday.

The No. 15-ranked Lions had just narrowly defeated No. 16-ranked SUNY Cortland, 23-21 in the tournament’s semifinals, sealing the win with a pin by senior All-American Mike Denver at 184 pounds.

Following such a contested victory, a letdown may have been imminent for some squads. But that’s just not how head coach David Icenhower’s team operates.

The Lions forged ahead, out-dueling No. 22-ranked Ohio Northern University 19-13 to take the Budd Whitehill title for the second time in five years.

Denver was the stopper for the Lions again, scoring a 10-3 decision following sophomore Brian Broderick’s 8-1 decision at 174 pounds. The College stands at 13-1 after claiming five victories in the two-day tournament. Denver is 22-2 this season and 91-16 in his impressive career as a Lion.

“It feels good to come back after winning,” Denver said. “We are on a win streak right now even though we have people out, and it feels good.”

Denver credited his less-experienced teammates, specifically freshman Steve Godine and sophomore Michael Kiley for the win.

When asked what gave his team the edge, Denver said, “Our underclassmen, Steve Godine at 125 pounds, really stepped up and even though his shoulder was messed up, he was still working hard for us, and Mike Kiley coming in at 197 pounds pulled through for us with a few wins as well. That kind of depth gave us the advantage.”

Sophomore Dan Herr shined in both of Saturday’s meets, scoring two decisions on the day at 133 pounds — 2-1 against Red Dragons senior captain Dave Colagiovanni and Polar Bears sophomore Jeremy Jones 13-5. Herr currently stands at 21-4 this season and 55-12 in his career at the College.

The Lions were then able to defeat two ranked opponents less than 24 hours after gathering three dual meet wins on Friday in the tournament’s earlier rounds. Adding to what is now a nine dual-meet win streak, the College downed John Carroll University 29-15, No. 28-ranked Wabash College 23-14 and SUNY Oswego 24-18.

After a few days of rest and icing muscles, the Lions will be back on the mats on Friday to take on No. 17-ranked Wilkes University on the road at 7 p.m.

“I think it will be a tough match but with the way we are wrestling and our team morale, I think we will come out on top,” Denver said. “We take it one match at a time and never take any matches lightly.”

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