In its opening matches of the season, the Binghamton University wrestling team defeated Franklin and Marshall as well as Centenary on Sunday before falling to 18th-ranked Rutgers.
“All in all, I’m really pleased with our first outing of the year,” Binghamton head coach Matt Dernlan said.
Coming off a season in which they finished with a 5-4 mark in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association and had two wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Championships, the Bearcats field a young roster in 2015, as nine of 12 wrestlers who competed on Sunday were either freshmen or sophomores. Despite its youthful roster, BU showed few signs of inexperience against its first opponent, taking eight of 10 matches.
Highlighting Binghamton’s performance against conference rival Franklin and Marshall was 157-pound sophomore Vincent DePrez who pinned junior Andrew Francos one-minute and thirty seconds into the match to give BU the six point gain. Also impressing early was redshirt freshman Mark Tracy, who recorded a 20-4 technical fall win over senior Charles Kerkesner.
The success of his younger wrestlers didn’t come as a surprise to Dernlan.
“We expect all of our wrestlers to [make an immediate impact] or we wouldn’t have them in there,” he said. “With our young guys, we believe they have a ton of potential.”
The Bearcats carried their momentum into the next dual, blowing out Centenary, 50-4. The 50 points recorded by Binghamton is the most recorded since BU’s 50-0 defeat of Davidson in 2009. Particularly impressive against the Catahoulas were junior 133-pounder Jacob Nicholson, redshirt sophomore 125-pounder Kyle Kelly, redshirt freshman 165-pounder Anthony DePrez, redshirt freshman 184-pound Reggie Williams and redshirt freshman 197-pounder Mark Tracy, who each recorded pins to propel Binghamton to its second dual victory of the day.
In its final dual of the day, Binghamton dropped its matches in each weight class. Senior 174-pounder Jack McKeever lost his bout by just one point, 3-2. In 2014, McKeever won three matches at the EIWA Conference Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships in St. Louis. As the only senior on this year’s squad, McKeever will be looked to as a leader, a title which Dernlan believes that his top wrestler has already taken in stride.
“From a leadership perspective, Jack really embodies all the characteristics that you want from a student athlete,” Dernlan said. “He leads by example, and I see it everyday with his attitude in the wrestling room, his attitude in the weight room, his attitude in the classroom. He doesn’t really have to speak, and he’s not a real vocal leader, but everything he does screams leadership.”
Although BU secured two dual victories by large margins on Sunday, Dernlan believes that there is plenty for the Bearcats to improve on as the season continues.
“We can do better in areas of execution, being disciplined in areas when it’s the toughest and not just taking what’s easy out there, but taking the tough points,” Dernlan said.
Binghamton is set to return to action this Sunday when it hosts the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open at the Events Center in Vestal, New York.