By Maximillian C. Burgos
The wrestling team won nine straight matches from Dec. 9 to Jan. 13. The Lions swept their competition at the Mariner Duals at the United States Merchant Marine Academy on Dec. 9, then defeated King’s College and Muhlenberg College in back-to-back duals on Jan. 5.
The team also took second in the Budd Whitehill Duals on Jan. 12 before losing to Centenary University, 24-15 on Friday, Jan. 19.
The team began their winning streak by dominating the competition in the Mariner Duals. Sophomore Dan Kilroy and freshman Robert Dinger led the way as they won two bouts apiece.
Dinger got two pins at the 141-pound bracket while Kilroy received a pin and a win by injury default at 174. Kilroy’s pin against Nassau County College came in just 33 seconds into the bout. Freshman Dominic Fano also earned his first college win at the 157-pound bracket with a pin against USMMA.
Afterward, the Lions defeated New York University in the Mariner Duals, 24-17. At the conclusion of last year, NYU was ranked 10th in the country.
The Lions managed to beat them with wins from Fano, sophomore Dan Ortega at 125, senior Ryan Budzek at 149 and juniors Alex Mirabella at 197 and Kyle Cocozza at 285. The Lions handled USMMA with ease, winning 29-9. They then ended the day with a win against Nassau County Community College, 37-6.
On Jan. 5, the Lions traveled to King’s College where they won 45-6. King’s College only won one bout during the match. Kilroy, Fano, Dinger and junior Mark Gerstacker, all got pins for the Lions against King’s College.
On the same day, the Lions went to Muhlenberg College for another dual. The team got out to a quick 19-0 lead against Muhlenberg. Ortega and Dinger both got pins in the first four matches to help the Lions take the lead. Senior James Goldschmidt also recorded a major decision at the 133-pound bout. Decision wins by Kilroy, freshman Thomas Anderson and Mirabella helped seal the match for the Lions. The Lions ultimately won 28-12.
On Jan. 12, the wrestling team traveled to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to wrestle in the Budd Whitehill Duals hosted by Lycoming College. On the first day of competition, the Lions swept their opponents, winning three straight. Kilroy, Dinger and Goldschmidt all won three matches to lead the Lions to victory. Ortega also won both of his matches at 125.
In the first day of competition, the Lions beat Ohio Northern University 23-12, State University of New York, Oswego 28-13 and No.18 Wesleyan University 26-19. A pin by Kilroy and a decision victory by Anderson also contributed to the Lions’ win.
In the second day of the Budd Whitehill Duals, the Lions began with a victory against No. 17 Roger Williams University. Cocozza and Dinger both won their matches on the second day, making Dinger 5-0. In Cocozza’s heavyweight bout during the Roger Williams match, he was in danger of getting pinned and giving up back points, but managed a reversal with sheer grit and determination. Shortly afterward he pinned his opponent, turning the tables on Roger Williams and sealing the 26-19 victory for the Lions.
In the championship match, the Lions faced off against Messiah College, ranked No.11 in the country according to InterMat Wrestling. In the match, the Lions jumped out to a 12-0 lead early, but lost the following six matches. Cocozza earned a victory to end the match, but it was not enough to beat Messiah. Ultimately, Messiah won 26-15 and broke the Lions nine-match winning streak.
On Friday, Jan. 19, the Lions traveled to Hackettstown, New Jersey to wrestle Centenary University, ranked No. 19 in the country according to InterMat Wrestling. The Lions fought hard establish an early 6-0 lead, but Centenary then won two straight, taking a lead at 9-6.
Junior JT Beirne tied the match for the Lions with a decision victory at the 157-pound bout, but Centenary then won three matches straight, putting the match out of reach for the Lions. Cocozza won the last match of the night by decision, but it was too late for the Lions to mount a borderline miraculous comeback.