It may have been winter break at the College, but the wrestling squad was given no time kick up their heels and relax. The Lions faced a tough task when they traveled to Lycoming College for the Budd Whitehill Duals, a tournament that consisted of 20 of the nation’s top wrestling schools. The men
went 2-3 in the competition, which was good enough for an eighth place finish.
“I think overall it was a pretty satisfying week and we showed improvement as a whole and just kept wrestling hard and smart,” senior 174-pounder Zach Zotollo said. “During the weekend, we lost a couple of close matches to some good teams that we would have liked to beat, but I think a lot of positive came out of the weekend.”
The Lions (3-4) won the opener against No. 26 Thiel College, winning six of the first seven bouts in a 19-18 decision. In the following match, the Lions lost a close one to No. 7 Olivet College by a score of 22-12. Zotollo, junior 133-pounder Joey DiCarlo and sophomore Antonio Mancella at 165 pounds went undefeated to end the first day of the tournament.
The following day against No. 25 University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, the Lions once against started out strong, winning 17-16.
“If we had lost that match then our weekend would have been over, so we were at an elimination point in the tournament,” Zotollo said. “It was good to beat Wisconsin because it kept our weekend alive.”
After falling short in the next round to No. 14 Johnson and Wales University, the Lions were set for a rematch against Thiel College. Injuries played a big role for the Lions, who, toward the end of the tournament, had to move guys up and forfeit some of the weight classes. The injuries proved to be too tough to overcome as the Lions lost 27-9 to settle for eighth place.
“(The second time against Thiel), we didn’t have the same lineup and were a little banged up, so it was a tough one,” Zotollo said. “Coming into the weekend our goal was top five, but just the way the weekend went with injuries we were pretty happy with how we ended.”
One of the more notable absences was senior Brian Broderick, the nation’s top wrestler in the 184-pound weight class. While he may have missed the competition, Zotollo and the rest of the team expect him to return to the lineup shortly.
While injuries may have been a factor, there were definitely moments the Lions can be proud of, as both Zotollo and Mancella ended the tournament undefeated at 5-0.
“He had a really good weekend,” Zotollo said of Mancella. “He wrestled real well and wrestled some good opponents.”
As for the senior captain, Zotollo also had a great weekend, beating some of the nation’s top wrestlers.
“I felt that I controlled all of them,” Zotollo said. “There were a couple of close scores but the kid I wrestled from Thiel was a tough opponent. He was one of the better kids I think in the country and I had two close matches with him.”
Despite being 3-4 on the season, the men are still optimistic for the remaining of the season.
“Even against the teams we lost this weekend, I think that we were the better conditioned team,” Zotollo said. “I think that the kids are wrestling tough, understanding that they have to grind out seven minutes, and win or lose, they have to play out until the end.”