For Lions’ wrestlers, three’s not a crowd

They say that three is the magic number.

Whoever “they” are would be correct if they were referring to the College’s success at the NCAA Division III East Regional hosted by Gettysburg College. Three Lions, senior John Darling and juniors Brian Broderick and Zach Zotollo, qualified for the NCAA Division III championships.

Broderick puts on a show, and is chasing a title. (Photo courtesy of the Sports Information Desk)

Broderick won the title for 184 pounds with a 7-4 win over Patrick Sheehan from New York University. He was dominant, being the top seed in his weight class, and picked up four big wins in the tournament to put his season record at 25-2. The first two wins for Broderick came by fall.

“My overall goal for this year is to place as high as possible at the national tournament, which would obviously be to take home the title,” Broderick said. “This regional tournament was just a stepping stone to get myself as well as my teammates where we want to be. I look at the regional tournament as a roadblock that we need to overcome to get us to our final destination.”

Darling was not as fortunate as Broderick, as he was unable to win his weight class (164), but still qualified for the NCAAs. He started off the day with a pin in his first match, then won two by major decisions before being beaten at the end by Joe Favia from Stevens Institute of Technology. Darling is ranked fourth nationally in his weight class, while Favia is third.

“I’m sure he was a little disappointed to not win in the finals, but I’m positive that he would much rather trade in a loss now for a win at the national tournament,” Broderick said. “Darling wrestled a tough opponent whom he had wrestled during our first match of the year. It was a close match then and it was a close match this weekend as well.”

By reaching 32 wins after the tournament, Darling is one away from tying a career high. He’ll get a chance to surpass that at the NCAAs.

Unfortunately for Zotollo (174 pounds), he had the same fate, succumbing to defeat in the finals by eighth-ranked Zach Thompson of Gettysburg. He wrestled in some tight matches, the first being a 17-14 win and then later on with a 3-1 win. The wins he picked up clinched his first ever 20-win season.

“Zotollo put forth an awesome performance this weekend winning several close-scoring matches,” Broderick said. “Zach has been hurt with several injuries this year (thumb, knee and hip) and he was still able to claim 20 victories. Reaching 20 wins in a season is an important milestone as a wrestler because it is certainly a confidence booster but most important, it is hard to be able to compete that many times during a year because there are so many injuries involved with wrestling. It’s difficult to wrestle as hard as you can every day for six months and not have some type of injury.”

The trio of Lions will take their talents to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Friday, March 18. It seems like they’re just about ready for the big stage.

“At this point, all you need is the plane ticket to get yourself to the national tournament where wins and losses are more important.”