With two weeks to go until conference championships, the Binghamton wrestling team split a pair of nonconference matchups. The Bearcats concluded their regular season on Saturday with a 46-0 shutout victory over Bloomsburg after falling to Buffalo the night before.
Friday’s match against the Bulls (10-6, 4-4 Mid-American Conference) was a difficult scrap for the Bearcats (9-7, 8-4 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association), who collected only two match wins in their 31-9 loss.
After BU dropped the first three matches to the Bulls, freshman Parker Kropman took the mat against Buffalo senior and returning national-qualifier Colt Cotten. Kropman found himself behind, 2-0, in the second period, but tied it up with a takedown. At 4:58 into the match, Kropman made a pin to cut BU’s deficit in half. This marked his 11th dual victory of the season and third career pin.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is finishing periods, finishing takedowns and finishing pins to secure bonus points,” said BU head coach Matt Dernlan. “Parker [Kropman] played a pretty pivotal role for his team this past weekend, and we’re really excited to continue to see what he has to offer.”
Redshirt sophomore Anthony Lombardo contributed to the second and final victory against Buffalo — a 5-2 decision in the 174-pound weight class.
Saturday’s match against Bloomsburg (4-17, 0-6 Eastern Wrestling League) was the pinnacle of the weekend, and perhaps the entire season, as the Bearcats earned their largest margin of victory over a Division I team.
“The big turnaround for us was finishing opportunities,” Dernlan said. “We made some adjustments on Saturday and showcased our resiliency.”
Sophomore Steven Bulzomi set the bar high for BU, earning a pin in his match against Bloomsburg freshman Willy Girard. A forfeit in the following weight class gave BU a commanding 12-0 lead.
Redshirt senior Dylan Caruana, who was recognized before the match for a Senior Day ceremony, contributed a 6-0 decision in a showcase of dominance at the 141-pound weight class.
BU proceeded to earn four straight bonus point wins over the Huskies to close out the dual.
The Bearcats ran much of the show late in the match. Kropman earned 12-3 major decision while redshirt freshmen Tristan Rifanburg and Jake Einbinder tallied major decisions at 157 and 165, respectively. Junior Steve Schneider picked up his 29th win of the season and redshirt sophomore Connor Calkins pinned his opponent in only 39 seconds. Calkins’ pin was the quickest of his career and his first of the season.
Finishing the season with an 8-4 record in the EIWA — its best record since joining the conference in the 2013-14 season — BU has high hopes for the postseason.
“Looking at it from a competitive standpoint, I think we should have confidence going into next weekend,” Dernlan said.
The Bearcats have two weeks off before they head to Bucknell for the EIWA Championships. Last season, BU had two wrestlers qualify for the NCAA Tournament after strong showings at the conference championships. Dernlan hopes to see similar success this year.
“We’re preparing ourselves and we’re doing whatever we can to get each individual ready to put on his best performance,” he said.
The first round of the EIWA Championships is set to begin on Friday, March 3 at 11 a.m. from the Sojka Pavilion in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.