Still in search of first win, wrestling set for pair of weekend meets

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Already a month into the new season, the Binghamton University wrestling team is struggling to live up to the preseason expectations that follow an excellent campaign and is still searching for its first win of the season.

Head coach Matt Dernlan said his team hasn’t executed on the floor yet, though the potential exists.

“I know we have got a lot more than what we have been seeing right now,” Dernlan said. “When it comes to competition, it is not really an ability thing. It is more of an attitude matter. We need to get our effort and attitude where it needs to be at all times, and we have just fallen short at times so far.”

However, Dernlan said he has seen enough positive signs lately, indicating to him that the Bearcats (0-6) would soon break into the win column.

“We have witnessed some great individual efforts from a collection of guys,” he said. “What we need to see is a consistent effort from 125 all the way up to heavyweight. We can’t just rely only on the guys that have been national champions or have been at that stage. We need to share the responsibility within the whole team. Right now I am mainly concerned about getting the right kind of attitude from each individual member of the team, and as soon as we get that collective fight, we’ll get some wins.”

Despite the team’s poor start to the season, two seniors, 149-pound Donnie Vinson and 197-pound Nate Schiedel, are enjoying great beginnings to their respective seasons. Both are unbeaten so far, with Vinson having notched 11 wins and Schiedel 10. As a result, Binghamton has two of its wrestlers in the top six in the nation for their weight classes for the first time in the program’s history, as Schiedel’s rank in the InterMat Poll got bumped up to sixth on Dec. 4. Vinson holds the No. 3 ranking in his weight class, behind senior Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State University and redshirt freshman Dylan Ness from University of Minnesota.

The Bearcats have endured a challenging start to the season, facing four teams ranked in the top 25 — Lehigh University, Cornell University, University of Illinois and University of Oklahoma. The task does not get any easier for Binghamton, which is scheduled to take on Princeton University and Boston University this weekend.

The Tigers (0-4), who are also struggling to find form so far this season, are looking to secure their first win as well. The meet against the Bearcats represents their first home meet of the season. On the other hand, the Terriers’ meet against Binghamton will be their first dual meet of the season, after having participated in three tournaments, including the Binghamton Open.

Dernlan said he expects both of this weekend’s opponents to push Binghamton all the way, and that the Bearcats will have to give their all to come away with the desired outcomes.

“This is a tough sport,” Dernlan said. “The guys understand that — they have all been around for a long time. You have to enjoy being a part of the team and being in pressure situations. You got to work hard to perform up to the standards individually and collectively. So I don’t expect it to be easy this weekend. We just have to change our mentality, enjoy the fight and enjoy the intensity of these environments.”

It was announced on Tuesday that the Bearcats will welcome a group of promising recruits for the 2013-14 season. It was confirmed that the program has signed six high school standouts. The class includes a pair of top-100 wrestlers and two more multistate champions.

“They are the future of the program,” Dernlan said. “Collectively, they are a bunch of character kids. They are a positive addition to our program, our athletic department and our main institution. They are exactly what Binghamton wants out of their student athletes. Individually, they are six out of the top 10 kids in the state of New York. And our objective is to build a national championship team with New York kids. So we went out and got the best kids in the state of New York, and I am really excited about it.”

The Bearcats are set to take on the Tigers at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Dillon Gym, before facing the Terriers at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Case Gym.