When Matt Dernlan took over as head coach of the Binghamton University wrestling team, he faced the tall task of replacing Pat Popolizio and trying to duplicate the former coach’s success. And this weekend, Dernlan and the Bearcats (2-6) took another step toward that goal, beating Princeton University and Boston University to earn their first two wins in dual matches.
But Dernlan deflected the idea that earning his first win as Binghamton’s coach was the most important piece of the weekend.
“It felt good, but more importantly, it was good to see the guys fight from top to bottom and compete hard,” he said.
Saturday, in a dual meet that came down to the last few matches, the Bearcats prevailed against Princeton (0-6) at Dillon Gym, winning their final three matches. The final score was 23-12.
Down 12-10 going into the 184 lb. weight class match, the Bearcats needed a win from redshirt junior Cody Reed to secure a victory. And in come-from-behind fashion, Reed stepped up and beat freshman Scott Gibbons in overtime, 7-5.
Senior 197-pound Nate Schiedel, currently ranked sixth in the country, and sophomore heavyweight Tyler Deuel then went on to tech-fall their opponents, earning the Bearcats their first win of what has been an excruciatingly difficult start to a season.
Other wins on the day came from 125-pound senior Patrick Hunter, third-ranked 149-pound redshirt senior Donnie Vinson and 165-pound redshirt freshman Vincent Grella.
“I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Dernlan said. “We won all the crucial matches we needed to, and I’m glad the effort was there to bring us out on top.”
The following day, the Bearcats traveled north for a conference matchup against Boston University (2-1) at Case Gym. Winning six of 10 matches, Binghamton earned a 26-13 victory.
Senior 133-pound Derek Steeley finished his weekend on a positive note, defeating junior B.J. Suitor by major decision. The most surprising and impressive performance of the weekend, though, came from Grella, who defeated sophomore Mitchell Wightman by a score of 2-1. Coming into the weekend, Grella had been winless in dual matches, but now stands at 2-4 on the season.
Dernlan said Grella stepped up this weekend, more than any other Bearcat.
“He was there for us all weekend when we needed him most,” Dernlan said.
Hunter, Reed, Vinson and Schiedel also had winning weekends. The Bearcats’ two nationally ranked wrestlers, Vinson and Schiedel, remain undefeated on the season, accumulating 54 of the team’s 89 points in dual meets.
The Bearcats are off until Dec. 29-30, when they are scheduled to participate in the 50th annual Ken Kraft Midlands Championships at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.