In its last match before the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, the Binghamton wrestling team lost its final dual meet of the season Friday night 20-15 to SUNY opponent Buffalo. Five Bearcats picked up wins throughout the match in a narrow defeat for the Bearcats (3-12).

Earlier in the week, the collegiate wrestling world was shocked by news that affects the Bearcats and redshirt sophomore Lou DePrez’s pursuit of a national championship. Arizona State’s redshirt senior Zahid Valencia, ranked No. 1 in DePrez’s 184-pound weight class, was suspended indefinitely. The school refused to release additional information due to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations, but a source told The Arizona Republic that Valencia tested positive for recreational banned substances.

Valencia is the two-time defending national champion at the 174-pound class, moving up a weight this season. He is undefeated in 2019-20, and defeated DePrez in a major decision earlier this season at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Wrestling Invitational. If he does not wrestle at the Pac-12 Wrestling Championships on March 7, he will be ineligible to compete at the NCAA Championships, opening up the door for DePrez and others to compete in a wide open race.

Against the Bulls (9-11), DePrez earned a 12-6 decision in his final competition before the conference championships. He finishes the regular season with a 22-5 record and has defeated several of his top-10 opponents throughout the season.

The meet started out with freshman Tomasso Frezza earning his first career dual meet victory in the 125-pound weight class.

Immediately following was the premier matchup of the evening at 133, as two ranked opponents squared off, with Buffalo’s No. 20 redshirt junior Derek Spann defeating Binghamton’s No. 8 redshirt sophomore Zack Trampe. Spann built an 8-3 lead after two periods, and it was too much for Trampe to overcome, with Spann holding off a comeback to win 9-8.

“I think that match was great for [Trampe],” said Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff. “It was an important match for him to wrestle because that is a guy that we are going to have to beat at the NCAA Championships. It is a match [Trampe] can learn from and very valuable given the limited amount of matches he has been able to wrestle this season.”

Senior Anthony Sparacio got an early takedown on Buffalo redshirt freshman Marcus Robinson at 141 en route to a 3-2 victory, but Buffalo responded at 149, as sophomore Michael Zarif was defeated 5-2 by senior John Arceri. Binghamton forfeited the 157-pound weight class, and the Bulls took a 12-6 lead in the match.

Buffalo grew its lead in the 165-pound weight class as senior Troy Keller secured a tech fall over redshirt junior Dylan Wood in a 16-1 blowout. Moving into the later rounds, the Bearcats picked up two wins from redshirt sophomore Aidan Monteverdi and DePrez, but split the final two bouts and lost the match 20-15.

“We wrestled sloppy,” Borshoff said. “I think we lost matches because we were overaggressive, but overall I think the team competed well tonight, and if we get a little better each day for the next two weeks we will be in good shape … We talk about it all the time. If we lose matches 14-11 or 10-9 I am okay with that because we are being aggressive and doing things that we can fix as opposed to wrestling tentative or scared. When we do not wrestle hard, it is difficult to make corrections because there is nothing we as a coaching staff can take away from that match other than we need to wrestle harder.”

It’s been a challenging dual season for Binghamton, but those results don’t matter heading into the postseason. DePrez and Trampe are expected to lead the group of Bearcats fighting for NCAA tournament bids, All-American titles and national championships, starting at the conference championship meet in two weeks.

“It was frustrating at the beginning of the year when we were not having enough effort,” Borshoff said. “But now as we prepare for the conference championship, we can go back and watch these matches and see things that can change the outcome of future matches.”

The EIWA Championships will be hosted this year by Lehigh University. The event will take place on March 6 and 7 at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.