By Maximillian C. Burgos
The Lions traveled to Rocky Mount, Va., on Friday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, Feb. 25, to wrestle in the NCAA Eastern Regional tournament. The team took ninth place, scoring 56.5 points in a heated and competitive tournament. Three Lions placed in the top three spots of their respective weight classes.
The three wrestlers will go on and wrestle in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Senior Nick Herring, freshman Dan Kilroy and senior Doug Hamann all placed second in their weight classes. Sophomore JT Beirne finished sixth at the 149, falling short of qualifying for the national championship.
Going into the weekend, the Lions were confident. Head coach Joe Galante expressed nothing short of confidence in his wrestlers’ abilities.
“We are ready for the challenge,” Galante said. “We will place high and have multiple qualifiers.”
At the end of the first day, three Lions finished 2-0, one win away from qualifying for nationals. Among those three wrestlers was returning All-American Hamann, who moved up to the 184 weight class this year. At the end of the first day, he was undefeated at his higher weight, winning his first match with a technical fall, 16-0, in 1:27 and his second match with a major decision, 13-1.
The following day, Hamann took second place, falling only in the finals. He qualified for the Championships at the 184 weight class. Additionally, he is in contention for his second consecutive All-American status.
Herring was also undefeated in the first day of competition. He won his matches in a 3-2 decision. Herring later won a 6-1 decision over King’s College’s junior Howard Kilpatrick. Herring then advanced to the finals, where he took second at 165 and qualified for the national championships.
Kilroy exceeded expectations for a freshman, winning his semi-finals match, 4-1, as he took second overall at 174 in the tournament. His only loss came to seventh-ranked New York University’s senior John Messinger. Kilroy also qualified for the national championships.
Sophomore JT Beirne and junior Kyle Cocozza both finished the first day 2-1. They needed to wrestle a perfect 3-0 record to take third and advance to the national championships. Cocozza had a rough second day, losing his first match and missing out from the national tournament.
Beirne fought hard, wrestling seven matches throughout the tournament. He ultimately placed sixth and did not qualify for the national championships.
The three remaining Lions look forward to the finals. Galante believes in their ability to represent their school proudly.
The NCAA D-III National Championships will take place in LaCrosse, Wis., from March 10 to March 11.
Last year, Hamann took eighth place in the tournament and continued the team’s 46-year streak of having at least one wrestling All-American. Galante and his Lions intend to keep the tradition alive this year.