Junior Steve Schneider earned his first win at the NCAA Championships win after his first-round bout on Friday. Entering his second straight NCAA tournament, Schneider was seeded 15 in the 184-pound weight class. Following his win in the first round, Schneider fell in two matches and was eliminated from competition.
His sole win came in a narrow 3-2 victory over junior Jason Grimes from EIWA-member American.
“I was disappointed I didn’t score a lot of points but … a win’s a win here no matter what fashion you get it,” Schneider said. “When I was warming up I really didn’t have that nauseous anticipated feeling … because I’ve already been here.”
Schneider’s hard-fought victory gave him a shot to advance to the quarterfinals. Standing in his way, though, was second-seeded sophomore Bo Nickal of Penn State. The two met earlier this season when Nickal took an 18-7 major decision.
This time around, it was more of the same. Schneider fought as he looked to earn takedowns and close the gap, but Nickal prevailed, pinning Schneider 5:33 into the match.
“I was proud of him; [Nickal is] really wrestling at the highest level and Steven didn’t back down,” said BU head coach Matt Dernlan. “That’s what’s going to position him to potentially get on the podium next year, learning from those big-time situations and learning how to compete with the best guys in the country.”
Schneider fell into the consolation bracket when he lost to Navy junior Michael Coleman to end his sensational season. Schneider compiled a 33-11 overall record this season.
Nickal went on to defeat Cornell senior Gabe Dean in the 184-pound national-championship match. Dean had been the two-time defending champion and was previously unbeaten on the season.
Binghamton’s other wrestler at the NCAAs was redshirt senior Dylan Caruana. He earned his first NCAA Championships appearance by placing fifth at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Tournament. Caruana faced off against No. 3 Stanford sophomore Joey McKenna. The match went the distance with Caruana holding his opponent to only six points. However, he couldn’t get on the board himself, falling 6-0.
The loss dropped Caruana to the consolation bracket. He took on Northern Colorado redshirt senior Timmy Box. Caruana fought until the end but fell to Box 10-5, ending his career as a Bearcat.
“For Dylan [Caruana] to cap his career by making it to the NCAA tournament is a really special achievement for him,” Dernlan said.
Caruana won 65 matches with 21 pins in his career. He captained this year’s team, which won its most EIWA dual meets in school history.
“He left a great mark,” Dernlan said. “In my first five years he and [former Bearcat wrestler] Jack McKeever were the first two guys that started with me so to see those guys both leave with an NCAA appearance … I couldn’t be more proud.”
Penn State went on to capture the team NCAA Championship. They earned five individual championships to capture their sixth title in the last seven years.
Although the tournament ended earlier than expected for the two Bearcat wrestlers, Dernlan is confident the team as a whole can learn from this year’s championships.
“We didn’t quite get what we wanted and we thought we potentially could get a couple more wins,” he said. “But with proper perspective we’re going to learn, refine and move forward into next year pretty quickly.”
The Bearcats will lose Caruana to graduation but are set to return their nine other starters. This season, BU placed eight wrestlers in the conference tournament.