In a sensational showing on its home mats at the 2019 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, the Binghamton wrestling team finished in a program-best sixth place and sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships. Redshirt senior Vincent DePrez, junior Anthony Sparacio and redshirt freshmen Lou DePrez and Zack Trampe all punched their tickets to the NCAAs as part of a strong team performance by BU (10-3, 8-2 EIWA).
“Our guys came in and they competed really hard,” said BU head coach Kyle Borshoff. “It’s something we’ve been building on all season. And the way that we wrestled this weekend — if we had wrestled ourselves today against ourselves in November, we would’ve shut our team out.”
After battling injuries early in the season and losing the first three duals of the season, the Bearcats rattled off 10 straight dual victories heading into their record performance at the EIWAs. V. DePrez, L. DePrez and Sparacio all finished third in their respective weight classes, and Trampe took fourth. These four qualifiers were the most sent by Binghamton since 2013.
For the first time in school history, Binghamton hosted the tournament at the Events Center. The Bearcats had the home-mat advantage in one of the most modern facilities to host the event.
“The venue was amazing,” Borshoff said. “I don’t know how many people came up to me to compliment the facility and the way it was set up, and just everything about our arena here at Binghamton.”
After having a dominant freshman year, L. DePrez was the first Bearcat to lock up a spot in the NCAAs on day one of the tournament. Ranked No. 13 in the country in the 184-pound weight class, he finished the regular season undefeated in dual matches.
“Lou has had quite the year,” Borshoff said. “At the beginning of the year, he and I were out in Slovakia where he was competing in the Junior World Championships after winning the world trials. He had a little injury we were battling at the beginning of the season and he missed some time as well. But it’s night and day for both of these guys [L. DePrez and Trampe], where they were a couple of months ago and where they finished today.”
Trampe was the second freshman from Binghamton to qualify for nationals. It is unusual for any freshman to qualify for the NCAAs, but BU was able to send two this season.
“They’re freshmen — they made it through to the NCAA Championships,” Borshoff said. “These guys have come a long way. Zack had to battle through some injuries at the beginning of this year, and he didn’t have a whole lot of mat time. This was really the first tournament he competed in all year.”
V. DePrez qualified for nationals for the first time in his career. As a redshirt senior, he made the most of his final opportunity with the team.
“[V. Deprez has] been here for five years, he’s been one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met, and for some reason the last four seasons he fell a little bit short,” Borshoff said. “If he wrestles like that out at the NCAA Championships, people better watch out.”
Sparacio rounds out Binghamton’s NCAA qualifiers. He is in his first year with the program after transferring from Division II LIU Post. He discussed his road to BU and praised Borshoff for his strong performances at the EIWAs and during the season.
“A year ago today, I was in a hotel room in Iowa, crying,” Sparacio said. “I hated wrestling — I didn’t even think I was going to wrestle anymore. And just the fact that Coach [Borshoff] gave me the chance to come out here and wrestle for Binghamton, I just wanted to go out and have fun.”
The last wrestler to battle for BU at the event was redshirt freshman Joe Doyle in the heavyweight fifth-place bout. Needing a victory for Binghamton to take sixth in the team standings, Doyle put forth a strong performance that resulted in a commanding lead. However, an injury timeout created concerns that he may not be able to continue. Nonetheless, he remained in the bout and earned a win by fall to take fifth and close out the championships for the Bearcats.
“What we did as a team this weekend, we’ve never done before,” Borshoff said. “Sixth place is the highest we’ve ever finished in the conference tournament, and all of that came down to Joe Doyle. We were behind going into that heavyweight match, and him getting that pin was huge for our team. We moved ahead of my alma mater [American], we finished in the highest position in the EIWA that we’ve ever finished in before, and those are the little building blocks we talk about all the time.”
The four national qualifiers will take to the mats one last time this season at the 2019 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The event will take place from March 21 to 23 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.