Sidney Slon/Assistant Photography Editor After transferring to Binghamton, senior Anthony Sparacio reached the NCAA Division I Tournament for the first time after a successful junior season.

With 10 consecutive dual meet victories, a program-high sixth-place finish at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, four NCAA qualifiers and a wrestler one win away from being an All-American, the Binghamton wrestling team finished its 2018-19 season on a roll. This year, the Bearcats will look to take their program to new heights as they open their season on Sunday.

“We talk all the time about cracking the top 20 of the country,” said Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff. “It’s only ever happened once in program history as a Division I school, but that’s not the final goal. We want to keep climbing that ladder … We want to be a top-10 team, a top-five team, a national championship team.”

With bold ambitions, Borshoff enters his third year at the helm of the Binghamton program. As he looks to increase national recognition for the team, he has scheduled a challenging slate of matches. The Bearcats are set to take on preseason No. 5 NC State on Nov. 23 at home, and will wrestle No. 6 Lehigh, the defending EIWA champions, and No. 13 Virginia Tech later in the season, among others.

The Bearcats return several key contributors from last season, led by redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez. DePrez, ranked No. 11 in the 184-pound weight class, was one win away from being named an All-American in his freshman campaign. Borshoff noted his success against other nationally ranked opponents in his weight class and believes he can compete for a national championship this season.

DePrez was one of two freshmen to qualify for the NCAA tournament, along with redshirt sophomore Zack Trampe. Senior Anthony Sparacio also returns after qualifying for nationals last season.

“I think we have a tough team — we have a very young team,” Borshoff said. “The first semester always is kind of a learning experience for us. What I’m looking for is for us to go out and wrestle hard.”

Some of the experience lost from last season comes from DePrez’s siblings, former standouts Anthony DePrez, ‘19 and Vincent DePrez, ‘19. For several years, the DePrez family name has been making a mark on Binghamton wrestling. This year, the final brother, freshman Sam DePrez, joined the program. He is expected to redshirt his freshman year and begin competition next season.

As they do every season, the Bearcats will open their season with their own event — the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open this Sunday in the Events Center.

“The Bearcat Open is always a good time,” Borshoff said. “A lot of our guys’ parents make it, a lot of our alum[ni] that wrestled here a while back come up for that event. It’s always special to get that home event out of the way earlier in the season.”

The Bearcat Open also gives the program a chance to showcase the Events Center to the many visiting opponents and coaches. The Bearcats will wrestle in four dual meets in the Events Center this year, starting with the NC State match.

“The Events Center is a premier facility of really any Division I school in the country,” Borshoff said. “I think having our team compete in there is important as we build our identity across the country.”

Two of those matches will be doubleheaders with the men’s and women’s basketball teams. The unique marketing opportunity will give all three programs a chance to showcase themselves in front of different fans.

“I’m hoping that we get some people who come for the basketball game to stick around and check out a wrestling match,” Borshoff said. “I’m hoping we can get some basketball fans converted into wrestling fans and vice versa.”

The Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open will take place all day on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.