After placing three wrestlers in the Nov. 10 Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open and putting up a strong showing at the East Stroudsburg Open in Pennsylvania this past Sunday, the Binghamton wrestling team prepares for a challenging weekend in Ithaca for its first dual match against No. 6 Cornell.
Binghamton, under second-year head coach Matt Dernlan, will look to avenge a 30-7 loss at Cornell last year.
Despite a 5-13 mark in 2012-13, Binghamton saw four wrestlers qualify for the NCAA tournament. This year, sporting a top-25 recruiting class that features New York state’s No. 1 recruit in Zach Zupan, the Bearcats hope to build on the successes and lessons of seasons past and get back to being a power player on the mat.
But getting back on top will prove to be a challenge for BU, as it makes its transition from the Colonial Athletic Association, which dropped wrestling earlier this year, to the nationally-renowned Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA).
Waiting for the Bearcats in their inaugural conference matchup this weekend is a Cornell squad under the command of 20-year head coach Rob Koll, who leads a team that hasn’t finished outside the national top 25 since the 2001 season. Along with national contender Cornell, the Bearcats are also set to meet tough conference competition in Rider, Lehigh and Bloomsburg University — all of which are all currently making noise on the national circuit.
With nine freshmen and only two seniors on the 22-man roster, the Bearcats’ youthfulness could grant them the opportunity to take some teams by surprise. Also, with Dernlan having led his former Penn State squad in bringing home back-to-back national titles in 2011 and 2012, it is clear that the head coach has a knack for winning and an eye for recruiting. A win over Cornell in this dual matchup would send a statement that would reach far beyond the EIWA.
Also at Cornell this Sunday is the 2013 New York State Collegiate Wrestling Tournament. The tournament, which Binghamton has won twice, will give the Bearcats a chance to see more of their conference competition in Columbia, Hofstra and Army.
BU and Cornell are set to square off at 7 p.m. Saturday in Newman Arena in Ithaca, N.Y.