While it may not have been an ideal start for the wrestling squad, the men — who have been struggling with injuries — are confident the team will rebound from a 24-9 loss to New Jersey rival Stevens Institute of Technology on Monday, Nov. 17.
The sixth-ranked Lions headed into their season-opening dual meet against Stevens with high expectations, but lost seven of the first eight bouts before closing out the match with a pair of wins.
“We had a couple of guys out with some injuries, so we weren’t at our best. But it was our first match, and the guys we put in wrestled well,” said senior Zach Zotollo, who is ranked No. 1 at 174 pounds. “Stevens is a better team than they are ranked, and we battle with them every year. It is our (Division III) rivalry, because they’re in New Jersey and we are in New Jersey, so it goes back and forth because they are a tough team.”
Zotollo, who is currently ranked No. 1 in Division III, won by decision against No. 10 Ryan Dormann by a final score of 6-1. The other two victors were junior Nate Leer (197 pounds) and sophomore Antonio Mancella (165), who won by decision 3-1 and 11-5, respectively.
“(Dormann) actually took a year off and then came back, so he was feeling strong and wanted to come back for another year,” Zotollo said about his opponent. “It was nice to get a win over a top guy who was nationally ranked, and it was a good feeling to beat him.”
Four days later, the Lions were back for an individual tournament at the East Stroudsburg Open, an event hosted by teams from all three divisions in a long day of competition.
While several wrestlers won matches, it was senior Brian Broderick (184) who did the best and placed fourth out of 33 wrestlers in his weight class.
“This was a really tough tournament, and I think it was good that some of the guys stepped up and won some big matches and wrestled well,” Zotollo said. “Definitely some of the younger guys who haven’t seen out-of-division opponents — Division I or Division II guys — got a good look today and they wrestled guys who are probably tougher than they are ever going to see throughout the year.
This Wednesday, Nov. 20, the Lions will travel to King’s College for another dual meet. Although the Lions are favorites, having won every game with the Monarchs since 2006, Zotollo stressed that they cannot take any team for granted.
“On paper and matchup wise, they are a lesser opponent, but they are tough and have a bunch of good guys,” Zotollo said. “We should beat them, but we still have to go out there and everyone has to go take care of their business.”