For the first time in program history, the Binghamton wrestling team has a two-time All-American athlete. In two consecutive seasons, redshirt junior Lou DePrez has won a conference championship and earned All-American honors at 184 pounds.

With those historic accomplishments under his belt, DePrez has been named Pipe Dream’s 2020-21 Male Athlete of the Year, earning recognition for the second consecutive year.

“[DePrez] is a fierce competitor and great team leader that continues to get better,” said Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff. “He has two seasons left to reach his goal of becoming an NCAA champion, and I am confident that he will do everything he can to reach that goal.”

Entering the bracket as the No. 3 seed, DePrez finished eighth at the 2021 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in March. He became the first Binghamton wrestler to place at nationals since 2011.

“I was pretty happy,” DePrez said. “I had bigger goals, but it’s always good to get on the podium. It’s such a tough tournament, every year is a new year with new competition. It’s a grind getting into that spot, but I was pretty happy with it.”

Binghamton competed in just four dual meets this season, and DePrez cruised to victory in all four of his bouts. He entered the 2021 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships undefeated, and successfully defended his title and won the tournament.

“I was wrestling good leading up into the postseason,” DePrez said. “Since it was a shorter season and we couldn’t really travel, we really couldn’t get those bigger schools, but I was happy with it.”

After the cancellation of last season’s NCAA championships, DePrez was selected as an All-American without the chance to compete. This year, he was able to earn that recognition on the mats. DePrez spoke about the influence performing at his level on the national stage has on the Binghamton program.

“It really just comes down to what this program has built up into,” DePrez said. “All the guys pushing everyone, coaching staff really doing their job and getting us where we need to become the end of the year. I’m happy with the success I’ve had, but I also know I can do better in the future so I’m looking forward to that.”

With last season in the past, DePrez has already returned to practice as the Bearcats look ahead to the future. Next year’s collegiate wrestling season is expected to return to a more typical season structure, and the team should have opportunities to face much tougher competition prior to the NCAA tournament.

“We have some really good tournaments we’re going to be going to,” DePrez said. “I think our dual schedule is going to be tough too, so we’ll see everyone that is pretty good in the country. I’m not really afraid to lose, so if I take a couple of lumps it’s always a good learning experience and that’ll just get me ready for nationals.”

As the NCAA granted winter athletes an additional year of eligibility last fall, DePrez has two more seasons of eligibility remaining. He will enter next season the favorite to win his third-consecutive EIWA title and will contend for the national championship at 184 pounds.

“There’s always stuff to work on,” DePrez said. “Just getting on the podium is always a good goal but I do have bigger aspirations. I would like to win the thing.”