By Christopher Drabik
The College’s wrestling team put on a couple of gritty performances against two top-10 teams in the country. Despite their best efforts, the Lions (12-9) dropped back to back matches to No. 10 Delaware Valley College and No. 8 Messiah College.
The College started off the week with a tight contest last Thursday, Feb. 13, against Delaware Valley College (11-3). Despite holding on to a 13-12 lead with two bouts remaining, the Lions suffered losses at 197 pounds and heavyweight for a decisive Delaware Valley victory.
The Lions started off slow, finding themselves down 6-0, but picked up big wins from freshman Ryan Budzek and Kellen Whitney, junior Antonio Mancella and senior Zach Zotollo.
Zotollo (15-0) came into the week ranked first nationally at his 174 pound weight class. He posted a 10-3 victory to keep his undefeated season alive.
The College then set its sights on Messiah College (19-1) in order to finish the regular season on a high note. As if the Lions needed any more motivation, they were looking to send off their senior wrestlers in style, as they took to their home mats at Packer Hall one last time. Seniors Zotollo and Nathaniel Leer were honored in a brief ceremony prior to the match.
Once the match was underway, it was a back-and-forth affair that featured six different lead changes. Once again, the Lions found themselves in the lead with just two bouts remaining, but they could not hold on as they suffered a hard fought 20-15 loss.
Down 7-6, juniors Steve Schneider and Mancella picked up back-to-back wins at 149 pounds and 157 pounds, respectively, to give the College a 12-7 lead.
Sophomore Brandon Simon provided the College with its final points of the night, picking up a victory at 184 pounds to set the lead at 15-13.
From that point, Messiah College picked up wins in the final two bouts to secure the victory.
Although the regular season is officially over, the College will continue to train and prepare for the NCAA Regional Tournament, which begins Sunday, March 1, in Ferrum, V.A.