Participating in a pair of tournaments that featured similarly high levels of competition, the wrestling team won four of nine matches to stay above .500 heading into the busiest part of the season.
The 23rd-ranked Lions (6-5) outscored their opponents 183-168 overall in January, defeating McDaniel College in the North/South Duals on Jan. 5 and collecting a trio of wins over Trine University, the United States Coast Guard Academy and John Carroll University at the Budd White Duals a week later.
“I thought winter break was very good for the team,” senior John Darling said. “We trained very hard and had some very tough matches. The biggest achievement over break was coming closer as a team.”
Tough matches were a common theme, as the Lions’ top-heavy schedule, including matchups with national powers No. 4 SUNY Cortland and No. 9 Ithaca, brought three defeats by five or less points versus ranked programs, two coming against Metropolitan Conference rival and No. 21-ranked York College.
“York is a tough in-conference team who we battle with year in and year out,” Darling said. “Both matches were very close and the second match finished in a tie, but we lost on criteria (the secondary tiebreaker).”
The Spartans played the role of spoilers early at the North/South Duals by earning a 21-20 victory, while a 17-16 (43-42) result in favor of York at the Budd White Duals kept the Lions out of the semifinals and pushed them into the consolation bracket.
“What we can take from that loss is that every individual point scored counts towards the team score and every wrestler on the team needs to be aware of that,” Darling said.
Success in a few weight classes was plentiful, though, as individual point-scoring was amplified at 125 and 165 pounds.
Darling went undefeated for 41 points and freshman Kevin Churchill (125) had 33 with a 7-2 record as the duo combined for 39 percent of the team’s points over the nine games.
Junior Brian Broderick (184, 197) went 5-0 at the Budd White Duals, including four wins by fall, for 23 points while staying undefeated in dual meet action this season.
“Broderick is a great wrestler,” Darling said. “There is nothing flashy about his style, he is just strong in every position. He always helps our team with bonus points.”
Antonio Mancella (165, 174) also picked up four wins to improve to 12-8 in all competitions, while Zach Zottollo (174) added another three wins to bring his season total to 13.
The Lions withdrew from the Metropolitan Conference Duals, slated for Jan. 19, when it was changed to a non-championship event, and will next be in action Wednesday, Jan. 23 against the United States Merchant Marine Academy in Packer Hall.