This weekend, members of the Binghamton wrestling team got a chance to go back to the state championships — the Intercollegiate State Championships, that is.
Bringing six starters and eight reserves to the New York State Intercollegiate tournament hosted by Cornell on Sunday, BU registered a sixth-place finish in the 31-team tournament. Used as an opportunity by head coach Matt Dernlan to sharpen the skills of his less-experienced Bearcats, Binghamton’s youth prevailed in Ithaca. Sophomore Nick Tighe was crowned champion in the 141-pound class, while sophomores Dylan Caruana and Zack Zupan each took third in the 141- and 165-pound brackets, respectively.
“We want to get [the young players] to a point where they figure out how to win against big-time [Division I] competition,” Dernlan said.
Also adding to BU’s point total were freshmen Thierno Diallo and Vincent DePrez, who won fifth place in the 125- and 157-pound weight classes, respectively.
Despite the success of his young group, Dernlan saw some room for refinement going forward.
“We’re initiating the fight for seven minutes,” Dernlan said. “Where we’re getting exposed and beat — in some areas [we’re] being almost over-aggressive. Getting beat by an upperclassman who’s got four, five years more experience at the DI level, it’s not effort or attitude or fight, we’re just making young mistakes. Now we got to keep moving forward during these next several weeks, and hopefully by the beginning of the year, we’ve gotten through those rookie errors.”
Binghamton’s sixth-place effort on Sunday comes on the heels of a third-place finish at last year’s NYS Championships. Though the team as a whole did not perform as highly as it did last season, BU’s young starters got a look at the competition up ahead, seeing four fellow Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association conference members at Cornell. For Dernlan, that was the biggest takeaway this weekend.
“We weren’t going in there focused on the team race,” Dernlan said. “We went into this weekend really focused on our individuals and making sure that we’re capitalizing and maturing at the rate we want these young guys to.”
Next up for the Bearcats are the Asics Journeymen Duals. Hosted by Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, the team will look to continue its growth at the dual tournament Saturday.
Seeing the talent on his team through two tournaments so far this season, Dernlan remains hopeful as his young squad competes against some of the top competitors in the nation.
“We’re pretty excited by the potential we see and the attitudes we work with,” Dernlan said. “We’re excited to see it develop over the next three months.”