The month of March is here, and NCAA postseason action is in full swing across multiple sports. Though both of BU’s basketball teams missed out on an exciting March Madness, not all of Binghamton’s athletic teams had to sit at home and miss the fun. Four members of Binghamton’s wrestling team, the most in six years, participated in the 2019 NCAA Wrestling Championships in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The event lasted three days, from Thursday, March 21 through that Saturday. Thirty-three wrestlers qualified in each weight class, and five rounds of wrestling determined the champion in each bracket. A consolation bracket, comprised of wrestlers who lost in the main bracket, determined the third-, fifth- and seventh-place finishers.
Redshirt freshman Lou DePrez, wrestling in his first NCAA Championships, was the most successful Bearcat in the tournament. DePrez, seeded 11th, was the only Bearcat to advance to the second day of the event after defeating redshirt junior Mason Reinhardt of Wisconsin in his opening bout. He lost his next match to the eventual champion of the 184-pound bracket, redshirt senior Drew Foster of Northern Iowa, but made significant progress in the consolation bracket the next day.
“It’s great,” DePrez said of the environment at his first NCAA Championships appearance. “It’s really big. You’ve got a lot of people cheering, it really makes people want to wrestle better.”
Overall, DePrez compiled a 3-2 record in his stint in Pittsburgh. DePrez won two consecutive bouts in the consolation bracket before ending his run with a defeat to Lehigh senior Ryan Preisch. Had DePrez won that matchup, he would have been guaranteed at least an eighth-place finish and All-American status. If DePrez’s first season as a Bearcat is any indication, the redshirt freshman has a bright future ahead of him in the Binghamton wrestling program.
The other three Bearcat wrestlers combined for just one victory in the entire tournament, with all three going down on the first day. The lone win came from redshirt freshman Zack Trampe, the first NCAA victory of his career. Trampe was seeded 33rd in the 133-pound bracket and triumphed in the preliminary round against redshirt sophomore Devan Turner of Oregon State.
“I think I wrestled pretty well,” Trampe said following the victory. “I felt pretty good going into it. Warming up, I refocused myself a little bit, not letting the nerves of the big show get to me … I got my mind set back straight and went to work.”
Following that victory, however, things went downhill fairly quickly, as Trampe dropped his next two bouts to exit the tournament after the first day. Binghamton’s other two representatives at the event, redshirt senior Vincent DePrez and junior Anthony Sparacio, similarly flatlined with two straight defeats in disappointing endings to otherwise remarkable seasons for the pair. For V. DePrez, Lou’s elder brother, it was his last outing as a Bearcat.
The weekend’s events capped off an impressive year for Binghamton’s wrestling program. The team completed its regular season with 10 consecutive dual victories, sent the most wrestlers to the NCAA Championships since its entrance into the EIWA and set a program record with a sixth-place finish at the EIWA Championships two weeks ago. Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff believes that the success of this season can only help propel the program upward.
“It gives us a sense of accomplishment as a team,” Borshoff said. “I hope these guys understand and realize and gain confidence from what we did this season by rallying off 10 straight wins and having the most qualifiers we’ve had since 2013. As a team, it was a great accomplishment, and it’s something we’ll keep building off of.”