Four wrestlers sealed their fate this past weekend at Kings College during the NCAA Northeast Regional tournament when they qualified for the prestigious Division III National Championship hosted in Iowa.
Sophomore 149-pounder Dylan Thorsen and freshman 125-pounder Kevin Corrigan placed second and third, respectively, in the competition consisting of 16 other schools. Leading the pack and placing first at 174 pounds and 184 pounds were seniors Zach Zotollo and Brian Broderick.
“I was real happy (with our performance at the tournament),” head coach Joe Galante said. “Coming in, I thought we could have had three to five qualifiers. To be honest, we didn’t know which of the guys it would be, but I liked the way we competed and proud of the way the guys represented the College.”
Corrigan was the first to qualify for nationals after winning five bouts, including two against another freshman from Ferrum College. Shortly afterward, Thorsen booked his ticket after winning three consecutive matches to reach the finals.
“I am unbelievably proud of them today because they wrestled awesome,” Zotollo said. “I am very happy that they are taking the trip out to Iowa (with us) and I am just proud of them.”
Galante is especially pleased with the two underclassmen and realizes the effect their qualification will have on the team for next season.
“It is great to have the young guys going because that means they will be back on the team next year,” he said. “It is nice to say we have two national qualifiers in the room every day, so it is good for our program because the guys can look in the corner and know that this guy made the national tournament.”
As for the others, Zotollo and Broderick both qualified for nationals for the second consecutive year and knew what was needed to be done to capture the title.
“We competed as a whole very well today,” Galante said. “I’m not sure if it was the best we’ve wrestled all season (teamwise), but I thought we competed hard and we did a lot of right things and our training definitely paid off.”
With a little less than two weeks separating the four from nationals, everything the men have been training for comes down to two short days.
“I want them to go out and have fun, and that’s what I tell them every time,” Galante said. “If they do that, then it should take care of itself … Our motto is to go out there, wrestle hard and have fun.”
Regardless of the results, Galante has high praise for the future of the wrestling program.
“I’ve been a coach for three years and we qualified three guys the first year, three guys last year, and now we’ve qualified four guys, so I think it is just showing that we are improving as a team,” he said. “We are becoming more solid because we are having more individuals that can compete at the national level.”