The Binghamton wrestling team competed against the toughest competition in the country over the weekend at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational. Two wrestlers, redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez and senior Anthony Sparacio, advanced to the second day of the tournament, with DePrez placing sixth in the event.
DePrez came into the event ranked fifth in his weight class and went undefeated on the first day of the tournament. He picked up major decisions over his first two opponents, including defeating redshirt junior Alan Clothier of Northern Colorado, the No. 24 wrestler in the country, and earning a decision over junior Taylor Venz of Nebraska, the No. 9 wrestler, to clinch a spot in the semifinals. This set up a bout against the defending national champion and current No. 1 Zahid Valencia, a redshirt senior from Arizona State, on Sunday. DePrez struggled on the second day of the event. He fell to Valencia, was defeated in the ensuing matchup and got pinned in his final bout of the event.
“[DePrez] gets better each and every match,” said Binghamton associate head coach Jasen Borshoff, who led the Bearcats at the event. “He lost to two guys, one is a returning All-American and the other should be one this year. He was right there with them, and if he had done a few things differently, he could have won. But he is right there with the best of them and that is what you love to see.”
Sparacio was just one win away from placing, as he had a strong showing in the consolation bracket. He won his first bout over Clarion’s redshirt junior Taylor Ortz, 6-4, before falling to the No. 7 seed, sophomore Mitch Moore of Virginia Tech, and entering the consolation bracket. He rebounded with two wins before being ousted by redshirt junior Tariq Wilson of NC State in the round of eight. Sparacio was wrestling from behind almost the entire match, but nearly put Wilson on his back at the end of the third round. In the end, he ran out of time and fell 4-2.
“[Sparacio] had a great first day and tournament,” Borshoff said. “He always wrestles hard and always is in the right position. Obviously he is disappointed to miss placing by one win but he had a great weekend.”
The Bearcats were among the field of 32 teams that included 16 of the nation’s top 25 programs.
“In order to beat the best at the end of the year, you have to wrestle the best to see where you are at and make adjustments,” Borshoff said. “Adversity is what builds wins in the postseason and we have certainly been tested with a tough schedule so far.”
The only other Bearcat to secure a victory in the event was redshirt sophomore Joe Doyle. He had a win by fall in his second match on Friday to advance to the second round of the consolation bracket in the heavyweight class before being eliminated.
Following a break for finals week, the Bearcats will take on Sacred Heart in a dual meet on Friday, Dec. 20. The match will start at 1 p.m. in the West Gym in Vestal, New York.