For the first time in program history, the Binghamton wrestling team hosted No. 1 Penn State in the Events Center. The Friday night wrestling event attracted over 3,000 fans from the University and the local community.
“It’s good to show how exciting this sport can be and how exciting it is for our community,” said BU head coach Matt Dernlan.
The unprecedented event set Binghamton’s wrestlers against some of the top competition in the nation, and despite the 40-2 loss, the Bearcats felt that they still took a lot away from the experience.
“We know what we’re up against, from being there and from coaching with those guys,” Dernlan said. “And you know what, that’s what Penn State wanted. They didn’t want us to come and just lay down. They wanted to say, ‘Hey, come give us your best shot.’”
Coming into the match strong in the 125-pound weight class event, redshirt junior Joe Nelson successfully claimed victory over Penn State’s redshirt freshman Devin Schnupp, 7-4.
From here, the competition proved too stiff for the Bearcats, as they went on to lose each of the remaining nine matchups over the course of the night. Some Bearcats fared better than others against Penn State’s nationally ranked roster, however.
Redshirt sophomore Frankie Garcia was pinned by PSU senior Zain Retherford just two minutes and 37 seconds into the 149-pound weight class matchup. Teammates redshirt sophomore Tristan Rifanburg and redshirt junior Anthony Lombardo also succumbed to the Penn State wrestlers in their respective 157-pound and 174-pound weight classes, via a pinning. They managed to last slightly longer in each of their matches, clocking out at 4:23 and 3:14, respectively.
“I wish that we would’ve seen [the fight] a little bit more consistently throughout the lineup but, again, this is where we have to build,” Dernlan said.
Each of the other Bearcat wrestlers finished their rounds, but lost by decision. Redshirt junior Mark Tracy remained within just six points of his opponent in the 197-pound weight class, the smallest point difference over the course of the night in any single match.
Looking toward the future, Dernlan was optimistic about improving for the remainder of the season.
“The goal is to build and not replicate the mistakes every week,” Dernlan said. “We’ve got to recognize what the mistakes are and improve them.”
On Sunday, the Bearcats looked to correct some of their mistakes from Friday night at the Black Knight Invitational in West Point, New York. They succeeded in placing in every weight class except the 184-pound event.
Taking second place was redshirt junior Joe Russ in the 141-pound event, Garcia in the 149-pound event and Tracy in the 197-pound event.
Garcia, who lost quite defeatedly Friday night, made a comeback in the 149-pound weight class to take second place at the Invitational, falling only to Lock Haven senior Ronnie Perry in the final round.
Redshirt junior Connor Calkins (285) and Rifanburg (157) managed to overpower their opponents in their respective third-place matches and take the honor.
Junior Steven Bulzomi placed fourth in the 125-pound event. Redshirt junior Vincent DePrez (165) and Lombardo (174) also took fourth in their respective weight classes. Rounding out the Binghamton placers was redshirt senior Jacob Nicholson, who earned fifth place in the 133-pound weight class event.
As a team, Binghamton finished fifth out of sixth in total match points, earning 261, and edging out Bloomsburg.
The Bearcats are set to return to the mats next weekend for matches against Eastern Michigan University, Indiana University and Indiana Tech at the Indiana Duals on Sunday, Nov. 26. Competition will last all day from the University Gym in Bloomington, Indiana.