By Connor Smith
The College’s wrestling team opened its season on Wednesday, Nov. 9, on the road against the rival Stevens University Ducks. The Lions also competed in the Ursinus College Fall Brawl on Saturday, Nov. 12.
Stevens, who upset the Lions in last year’s NCAA Eastern Regional Tournament, overcame a 20-15 deficit in the final bout to eke out a 21-20 victory.
“Team wrestling is tough,” head coach Joe Galante said. “We are looking to get better each and every day.”
The Lions saw four seniors graduate last spring, including former All-American Antonio Mancella. The new-look Lions lineup featured five freshmen, as junior James Goldschmidt was the only returning starter against the Ducks.
“We have great freshman additions, as well as senior leadership,” Galante said. “I’m proud of the progress so far this season.”
Freshman Dan Ortega drew first blood with an 8-5 decision at 125, but Stevens fired back at 133 to tie things up at 3, which set the tone for the tightly contested dual match. Sophomore Eric Friedman battled for a 3-1 decision to put the Lions ahead 6-3.
At 149, 157 and 165, Stevens dominated and amassed a 15-6 lead, which included a major decision by sophomore Thomas Poklikuha and a technical fall by senior Colin Navickas.
The College showed some resilience when junior Kellen Whitney stepped up at 174. Facing a nine-point deficit, Whitney brought the Lions back with a 13-4 major decision.
At 184, freshman Dan Kilroy made back-to-back major decisions and brought the College within one point. The rally continued at 197, as sophomore Alex Mirabella made quick work of his opponent. His 2:22 win by fall was the quickest bout of the night, and the Lions took the lead at 20-15.
In the final bout, heavyweight senior Pat Schnider fought to defend the lead, but fell victim to a pin at 3:36. The Ducks won the dual, 21-20.
At the Ursinus College Fall Brawl, senior Nick Herring clocked in a dominating 4-0 performance and won first at 165. Kilroy, meanwhile, placed second at 174. Freshman Anthony Gagliano also placed third at 141.
“It’s an exciting for TCNJ wrestling,” Galante said.
Galante hopes students will come out and support the team in its home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m. in Packer Hall. The Lions, who are four wins away from earning win No. 700, will face off against Kings College.