The Binghamton wrestling team put on a powerful display over the weekend, taking down Brown in a close bout before pummeling Sacred Heart.
The Bearcats (7-4, 7-2 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) faced off against Brown (4-6, 1-4 EIWA) Friday evening in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown jump-started the match with two victories, gaining a 9-0 edge. However, BU fought back as redshirt senior Dylan Caruana took charge for the Bearcats, winning an 11-1 major decision over Brown junior Zeke Salvo in the 141-pound weight class.
Caruana, who has compiled a 7-6 record this season, has proven to be an instrumental player and leader for the Bearcats.
“He was a cornerstone for us this weekend,” said BU head coach Matt Dernlan. “He helped stop the bleeding.”
Freshman Parker Kropman increased BU’s traction, fighting for a 9-6 decision win over Brown sophomore Travis Vasquez. The Bears retaliated with two wins in the following two weight classes to push their lead to 16-7.
Redshirt sophomore Anthony DePrez revitalized BU with a 4-1-decision win over Brown junior Andrew LaBrie at 174. After that, the Bearcats took the final three matches in the 184, 197 and 285 weight classes, which gave BU a 20-16 dual victory.
“It wasn’t the prettiest thing but at the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be,” Dernlan said. “It was the team effort that I was really proud of.”
Heading into Saturday with confidence, the Bearcats delivered a beating to Sacred Heart. The Pioneers (2-8, 0-5 EIWA) got off to a rocky start, handing BU a 6-0 lead from a forfeit to sophomore Steven Bulzomi in the 125 weight class. Sacred Heart came back with a major decision win at 133, closing the deficit to two.
Caruana built upon his performance at Brown as he stifled the Pioneers’ hope with a pin over Sacred Heart sophomore Paul Klee only 22 seconds into the match. The victory pushed BU’s lead to 12-4. Caruana’s win galvanized the rest of the Bearcats, who earned decision wins in the following three weight classes. DePrez then recorded an overpowering 18-0 technical fall win and redshirt sophomore Mark Tracy added 17-2 tech fall victory in the 197-pound bout. The Bearcats lost at the heavyweight level, but still took the overall match, 34-7.
The pair of victories propelled BU to 7-4 overall and 7-2 in the EIWA. Dernlan attributes BU’s success to the joint efforts and leadership from his players.
“It’s more than the individual play,” Dernlan said. “It’s playing for one another, and that’s what our guys have been doing.”
In his fifth season as head coach, Dernlan has witnessed the evolution of his team’s dynamic. The team has undergone notable development, improving from a 5-13 season record in Dernlan’s first year as head coach.
“The camaraderie, the unity, the togetherness — it’s what I’m so proud of and it’s what we’ve been building for the past four years,” he said.
BU is set to continue EIWA play against American on Sunday. The match is scheduled to begin at noon from Bender Arena in the District of Columbia.