By Maximillian C. Burgos
The College’s wrestling team lost its home opener against Stevens Institute of Technology, 26-16, on Friday, Nov. 10. The Lions also wrestled in the Ursinus College Fall Brawl on Saturday, Nov. 11, where the team saw varying success.
Despite the loss to Stevens, head coach Joe Galante saw some positives in every bout.
“We need to get a little better,” Galante said. “We can take away some positives from those last three bouts and I saw some greatness in some spots. At 125, we looked a little better than we did last week. At 149, we looked a little better than last week, the guy wrestled tough. At 165, we were right in that battle.”
While Galante acknowledged Stevens’ talent, he believes the Lions could win the matchup if they make several adjustments.
“The other guy (at 165) was ranked in the country, but I think we can win that battle with a couple little changes. At 184, 197 and heavyweight, we are happy, but we are not done working yet,” Galante said.
The Lions lost their first seven bouts of the night, which gave Stevens a 25-0 lead. The closest matchup at 165. Senior Luke Balina battled Stevens junior Thomas Poklikuha, who was ranked No. 8 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association’s latest Division III ranking.
The two wrestlers fought in a back and forth tug-of-war. They hand-fought aggressively, working toward a takedown. Balina gave up two points early in the match after a slick takedown by Poklikuha. Balina battled back in the final period, but he couldn’t hang on for the win and lost, 9-7.
The fans were given something to cheer for during the 184-pound bout. Sophomore Dan Kilroy wrestled hard right from the first whistle, getting out from an early scramble to claim his first takedown.
Kilroy grinded his opponent in the first period, earning 2:26 of riding time. He finessed his opponent, but did not get any back points in the first period. In the second period, he built on his lead, tiring out his opponent even further.
Kilroy won the match by fall in the third period. His opponent tried to run out of a double leg maneuver, but Kilroy managed to catch him by the waist and take down his opponent. Kilroy managed to land on his opponent’s chest, scoring back points immediately. After a short, strong-willed counter from his opponent, Kilroy earned the pin, getting the College its first six points.
“Kilroy’s a pinner,” Galante said. “He is a winner. Every time he goes out there he expects great things. We expect great things. I talked about the win in the locker room with him after the match.”
Even though Kilroy defeated his opponent, he was unsatisfied with his performance.
“He’s not super happy with his performance, he wants to do better,” Galante said. “In the second period, he didn’t score a lot of points. He didn’t stay as on it as he probably could have. It was like a second-period slump, a little bit. But it definitely is a good place to build from. Starting your first home dual off with a fall, I like that.”
Junior Alex Mirabella, came out strong at 197 and pinned his opponent very quickly. He walked from the top position into a near-side cradle that flattened his opponent’s back. The Lions cut into their deficit with another six points.
Senior heavyweight Kyle Cocozza also had a solid match, winning a major decision. He picked his shots well throughout the match. Cocozza ultimately won 10-2.
Mirabella and Cocozza are training together to keep their success going, according to Galante.
“They are doing one-on-one sessions with me early in the morning and I love that,” Galante said. “They are showing sacrifice. They are sacrificing their time. They are sacrificing going to bed early the night before and I think that showed through on the mat tonight.”
At the Ursinus College Fall Brawl, freshman Thomas Anderson claimed the highest place for the Lions, getting fourth place at 184. He picked up a pin just 51 seconds into his first match, won 12-3 in his second, dominated 14-1 in his third and won the fourth with a pin.
Junior Ryan Erwin and freshman Daniel Surich also wrestled at 184, both going 4-2. Freshman Connor Murphy won six matches at 133, including four by pin. Sophomore Nic Mele also won three matches