As nationals near, the business of winning carries an increasing amount of weight, and after four more victories this weekend, adding to a now 13-dual meet win streak, winning has become business as usual for the Lions.
The No. 14-ranked College hosted Springfield College in its most recent match, downing the Pride 27-15.
Freshman Steve Godine continued his impressive rookie season, gaining the Lions’ first win of the day with a pin two minutes into his 125-pound bout. Godine is now 18-10 on the season.
Head coach David Icenhower attributes the team’s success to a true group effort.
“The main reason for our success has been that our stronger guys know that they have to get extra points while our guys who are more up and down are doing a good job of not giving up extra points,” Icenhower said. “We have been getting a lot of splits but are still coming out on top.”
After dropping bouts at 141 and 157 pounds, the College rattled off three victories to secure the overall win. Senior Justin Bonitatis won at 165 pounds by injury default, sophomore Brian Broderick won by decision 10-3 at 174 pounds and senior Mike Denver pinned his opponent at 184 pounds in 2:11.
With a stellar career record of 97-16, Denver is approaching a milestone. If the All-American wins his next three bouts, he will reach win No. 100 at home versus Centenary College on Feb. 11.
“I’m happy for (Denver) and he is very deserving of it,” Icenhower said. “I’m not a big numbers guy though. I don’t know exactly how many guys have done it before, but I would rather see him perform well at nationals.”
The College’s busy weekend began on Saturday as the team hosted the six-squad METRO/New England Duals, winning each of the three dual meets in which they competed.
The Lions’ first victory of the day came in a 26-12 win over Roger Williams University. Jump-started by a 4-3 decision by Godine, the College took the first four bouts, balancing four consecutive losses to end the match.
The College followed the victory by pounding the U.S. Coast Guard Academy 39-9.
After a shaky start that saw Godine and senior Dan Hughes fall at 125 and 133 pounds, the Lions took off, winning seven of the next eight matches, with all of the wins coming on technical or pin falls, for an easy win.
The team finished the day by defeating its only ranked opponent, No. 3-ranked Williams 36-13. Following a major decision loss by Godine, the College scored wins in the following seven bouts, highlighted by two quick pins — one by Bonitatis (1:12) and another by sophomore John Darling at 149 pounds (1:19).
The Lions’ schedule does not get any easier, as the College will travel to Wilkes University (14-7-1) on Friday, Feb. 4 before taking on ranked opponents Delaware Valley College and Centenary College.
“We have three very tough matches ahead of us with all ranked opponents,” Icenhower said. “We have a tough road ahead of us.”
Bobby Olivier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.