Wrestling places high at Invitational

The wrestling team put on a pair of clinics last week, rolling past King’s College and earning third place at the New Standard Invitational during the College’s last meets of 2011.

Senior Mike Denver won his weight class vs. King's. (Courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

The 24th-ranked Lions (2-1) extended their winning streak to two games with the 31-16 victory at King’s College (1-3) on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“Our team wrestled well,” head coach Joe Galante said. “We were focused, we wrestled hard and we did what we needed to do.”

The Lions dominated from the onset. After four bouts the College held a comfortable 22-0 lead, and after six they clinched the victory at 28-3.

Freshman P.J. Schmidt (125-pound weight class), senior Dan Herr (133) and senior Zach Zotollo (165) earned pin-downs, senior Brian Bollete (141) came back from a 5-0 deficit to win 17-9, and senior Chris Lombardi (149) won by forfeit.

Mike Denver (184) added to the victory with a win by decision.

Three days later the Lions competed at the New Standard Invitational in York, Pa., in their last meet until Jan. 7, 2012, and a handful of top performances elevated the team to third place in the field of 11.

“We always want to improve, (but) we were impressive,” Galante said. “We deserved third place … We wrestled well.”

Denver, the No. 2-ranked 184-pound wrestler in Division III, won his weight class by pinning the No. 1-ranked wrestler — York College’s previously undefeated Alex Martocello — 29 seconds into overtime of the final round.

It was Denver’s 16th straight win for the Lions, and his third in four tries against Martocello over the past two seasons.

“Mike competes hard and he trains even harder,” Galante said. “It’s a nice win for him, but he’s beaten (Martocello) before and he’ll beat him again if he wrestles with intensity.”

John Darling (157) also went 5-0 to win his weight class, albeit less dramatically.

Darling beat his first four opponents by a combined score of 41-4 and built a 6-0 lead in the final round, but then won by injury default.

Several other Lions made deep runs in the tournament and every point was crucial. The College’s final score of 85.5 was equaled by York College.

No. 10-ranked Herr reached the final of the 133-pound weight class, Schmidt finished third in the 125-pound weight class, Zotollo won five times to earn third in the 165-pound weight class and junior Anthony Damico (149) was fourth in his weight class with a 3-2 record.

The Lions pulled into third late in the tournament to end 2011 on a high note.

“We had a great championship round. We were tied with (fifth-place) Johnson and Wales R.I. going into the final around and moved into third,” Galante said. “It was a great way to end the year.”