Coming into his match at a two-point disadvantage, junior heavyweight Tyler Deuel struck when it mattered the most last Friday against Buffalo. Just 50 seconds into the first period, Deuel earned his team-high 10th pin of the season, propelling the Binghamton wrestling team to a 22-18 victory at Alumni Arena.
“In the past month and a half, a lot of our matches have come down to [Deuel],” BU head coach Matt Dernlan said. “He’s comfortable being in that position, knowing that he needs to step up for the team, so this is a role he’s kind of taken on.”
BU (5-11) rallied from an eight-point deficit to earn its second road win of the year. Six Bearcats managed to best their opponents, with three posting wins by either fall or major decision. Deuel and 197-pound senior Cody Reed, who each boast 10-match winning streaks, headlined the group. Deuel and Reed rank 24th and 25th in their respective weight classes in the latest NCAA Coaches’ Panel Rankings.
125-pound junior David White, 149-pound junior Joe Bonaldi, 165-pound sophomore Vincent Grella and 184-pound junior Caleb Wallace rounded out the team’s remaining victors.
Binghamton has just two more contests until the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships roll around in the second week of March, completing the regular season at home. The Bearcats will kick off the home stand tonight against conference foe Bucknell. A tilt with .500 Bloomsburg, fresh off the road from the NWCA/Cliff Keen National Duals in Des Moines, will follow on Saturday afternoon.
The pair of matches will bring some of the toughest competition the Bearcats have seen this season. This is especially true for Deuel and Reed, who will both have their national rankings challenged as they will each face top-20 opponents.
In the 197-pound category, BU’s Reed will face off against Bloomsburg’s No. 6 ranked Richard Perry on Saturday.
“[Reed’s] got one of the top [wrestlers] in the country,” Dernlan said. “So if we could find out a way to get a victory on Saturday with Cody, that will really position him well for the conference, and nationally.”
Deuel will face No. 19 junior Joe Stolfi of Bucknell (9-11), who has recorded 20 wins by fall on the season. Saturday against Bloomsburg, Deuel is scheduled to face off against No. 17 senior Justin Grant.
“That’s the one thing … as great as Tyler has wrestled this year, he hasn’t really, for whatever reason, gone up against any ranked opponents,” said Dernlan of the upcoming matches. “So he’s had this weekend circled for a long time, knowing that he’s going to have two guys both in the top 20. He’s really excited to test himself against a couple of the nation’s best.”
Dernlan also added that he did not want to put too much pressure on the 285-pound Deuel this weekend, but he went on to add, “If he gets this win [Friday] night, then he’s probably secured for a top-2 seed at the conference tournament.”
With a pair of losses last weekend, Bucknell has a chip on its shoulder. Friday also represents the last chance for the Bison to pick up a dual match win before the EIWA championship.
Bloomsburg (8-8) will ride a two-loss skid into Binghamton, having dropped both matches at the National Duals in Iowa. Bloomsburg’s Perry and Grant both secured two wins on the day, but overall, No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 18 Illinois were not to be bested.
Despite both opponents carrying losing streaks into the weekend, the Bearcats know neither can be taken lightly.
“Collectively as a group, we’ve got to step up and do our part,” Dernlan said. “We have to fight for our victory. We’ve got our backs against the wall, and we’re going to be challenged at the highest levels with these two teams.”
Friday’s match against Bucknell is set to begin at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s against Bloomsburg is scheduled for 2 p.m., both at the West Gym.