As the Binghamton wrestling team kicked off its season at the annual Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open on Sunday afternoon, redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez impressed in his season debut. After advancing to the championship bout in the 184-pound weight class, he found himself down 2-0 early against the No. 2 wrestler in his weight class, nationally-ranked sophomore Ben Darmstadt from Cornell. DePrez regained his positioning, earning a 7-2 decision in an impressive upset victory over top competition.
“Lou DePrez had a really amazing tournament at 184, knocking off the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the finals,” said Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff. “It was good to see Lou [DePrez] compete as hard as he did, and really wrestled the game plan that we talked about. He did pretty much everything we discussed between our coaching staff and him in that bout.”
DePrez, currently ranked No. 11 nationally, has national championship aspirations this season, and was one of several Bearcats to place at the team’s home tournament.
Redshirt sophomore Zack Trampe, currently ranked No. 13 in the country, also won his weight class, taking the 133-pound title. Two other Bearcats were defeated in first-place matches: redshirt junior Audey Ashkar and senior Anthony Sparacio both placed second in their respective weight classes. Ashkar’s second-place finish came one year after winning the 125-pound competition in last season’s meet.
“It was a great opportunity for our whole team to get on the mats,” Borshoff said. “The guys that wrestled today, they wrestled great … What we were talking about all week was going out and scoring points and being aggressive, not worrying too much about wins and losses. At this point in the season, what we really need to do is figure out what we need to work on.”
Four other Bearcats placed in the top six of the tournament. Redshirt sophomore Joe Doyle finished fourth in the heavyweight competition. Redshirt junior Alex Melikian placed fifth in the 174-pound weight class, followed by freshman Jacob Nolan in sixth. Freshman Carson Sauriol also placed sixth in the 125-pound group. Both Nolan and Sauriol were freshmen competing in their first collegiate event.
Although Nolan and Sauriol may not be in the 10-man dual meet lineup, they are able to compete in open tournaments such as the Bearcat Open, as teams are allowed to enter multiple wrestlers from the same weight class. As a result, there was a wide variety of competitors in the field.
“There were some great matches here today,” Borshoff said. “I love this tournament because we get a really good mix of top guys. Every weight class has some really good guys, and then every weight class has a bunch of the mid-tier guys and then some of the lower-level guys. Everyone on the team today got some wins, which is awesome, and everyone on the team today got to wrestle some really high-level competition.”
Several of the nation’s top programs competed at the open, including No. 1 Penn State, as well as Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association rivals No. 10 Lehigh and No. 18 Cornell. Binghamton will take on both the Mountain Hawks and the Big Red later this season in dual meets, and Borshoff hopes that these early-season opens can help the team improve before those matchups.
“We have to work on self-generated offense,” Borshoff said. “We struggled a little bit in our setups today and that was holding us back from scoring points from neutral and turning guys on top.“
Next up for the Bearcats is a trip to South Dakota State this weekend. The team will take on the Jackrabbits in a dual meet on Friday at 5 p.m. and participate in the team’s open on Sunday. Both events will take place in Brookings, South Dakota.