Closing the curtains on the regular season in victorious fashion ahead of the NCAA East Regionals, the wrestling team cruised early in a 21-13 win over No. 19 Messiah College last Saturday after being stonewalled late in a roller coaster loss at No. 8 Delaware Valley College.
The 16th-ranked Lions (12-7) handled a top-heavy end to the season better than in 2012, when they entered qualifiers on a five-game slide, as taking down the Falcons gave the College its seventh win in its last nine games.
“I think that is a result of our diverse coaching staff,” No. 4 junior Brian Broderick (184) said. “We have five young coaches with high energy and they are very good at analyzing our team and seeing where we need to make adjustments, whether it is for our whole team or just individually.”
That stretch also includes a victory over No. 6 Centenary in Packer Hall, and the season finale set the Lions’ home record at 4-1 this year versus 8-7 on the road.
“Wins over nationally ranked teams such as Centenary and Messiah as of late gives us a pretty good estimation of where we stand and where we would like to be,” Broderick said. “I would say that anytime a team is able to wrestle at home, it gives them a slight advantage. Not only because of the fans, but because the environment is familiar to them and they do not have to make any adjustments.”
The Lions steadily built a 21-6 lead over the Falcons in a performance that was similarly dominant to Messiah’s in a 31-10 win over the College last year, with bonus points coming in the form of a pin from senior Dan Herr (133).
Broderick prematurely clinched the match with a 3-2 win by decision against ranked Josh Thompson and ended the season undefeated in dual meets, rendering losses at 197 and 285 pounds harmless.
Freshman Mike Shaughnessy (141), Antonio Mancella (157), No. 4 senior John Darling (165) and No. 8 freshman Dylan Thorsen (149) added points, with the latter improving to 10-2 this season after being ranked at 141 pounds for the first time in the latest NWCA rankings.
“Thorsen is an extremely smart and technical wrestler who is hard to force out of his position. He makes minimal mistakes, if any, during a match and that is why he is so difficult to beat,” Broderick said. “He is a quiet, humble kid and obviously a hard worker.”
The loss in Delaware Valley was a more closely contested match which went until the final bout, even though the Aggies seized an 11-point lead through five rounds.
Herr put the Lions on the score board with a win by decision, and success in the upper-middle weight classes threw them a life line heading into the final stretch: Darling and KC Murphy (174) earned decisions, while Broderick added four points to cut Delaware Valley’s lead to 14-13.
The Aggies made up for last year’s 20-19 loss to the Lions in Packer Hall by closing out the game with two major decisions, though, taking a sliver of blame for the College’s 17 losses at 285 this year.
With the regular season out of the way, the Lions will look to repeat last year’s success at NCAA championships, where Darling, Herr and graduate Mike Denver made deep runs that gave the College a sixth-place team finish.
“These next few weeks for the team are more of a selfish time where individuals will work with the coaches to pinpoint any techniques they may need to work on or change,” Broderick said. “The guys who really want to ‘peak’ at the right time will utilize this time efficiently to get the best results possible.”