After qualifying in the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association championships, three Bearcats participated in the NCAA championships in Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend. Although no BU wrestler grabbed a win in the main bracket, redshirt junior Jacob Nolan highlighted Binghamton’s tournament with two victories in the 184-pound consolation bracket. BU exited the weekend with just those two wins as it wrapped up its 2023 season.
“I thought [Nolan] did a good job and I’m excited that everyone’s coming back,” said Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff. “[Nolan’s] got another year and [redshirt junior Cory Day] and [sophomore Brevin Cassella] have two more years. It’s an awesome event, and I’m excited for next year.”
Nolan entered the championships as the No. 19 seed in the 184-pound weight class. Despite dropping his first bout on Thursday morning, Nolan rebounded with his performance in the consolation bracket. The redshirt junior’s first victory came in the form of a 12-1 major decision over his Gardner Webb opponent. The win marked his third-ever victory at the NCAA championships, and his first by way of a major decision. Nolan capped off his performance on Friday with a 7-5 decision victory over his Virginia competitor, but ultimately lost in the next round to the eventual eighth-place finisher.
“[Nolan] did well,” Borshoff said. “He lost a tight match early in the event to the guy that eventually placed seventh. Then he dropped his next match a little later on to the guy that placed eighth. So both his losses that he took came to guys that finished as All-Americans. He’s gotten better every year and he’s competed for us, so he’s right there in that conversation with the top eight guys, and I think he’s got a lot to build on.”
Day and Cassella were the other two Bearcats to appear at the championship meet, but were unable to grab individual wins. Cassella participated in the tournament for the second straight season, but couldn’t repeat his 2022 performance where he won his first career match at the NCAA championships. After losing by decision in the first round of the 165-pound bracket, the sophomore was defeated by decision again in his consolation appearance. Day, on the other hand, made his first appearance at the tournament in the heavyweight class. The redshirt junior followed the same path as Cassella, dropping his only two bouts.
“[Day and Cassella] wrestled hard,” Borshoff said. “They didn’t win but they wrestled hard. I think at the end of the day for both of those guys it’s just keeping things in perspective from where they started when they came to Binghamton. [Cassella], I think his first EIWA tournament he finished 0-3. [Day], took him three years to get into our lineup at all, and [he] started at 184 and moved up to heavyweight this year and got to the NCAA tournament.”
BU finished its season at Tulsa with three different qualifiers and two wins at the championships courtesy of Nolan. Nolan’s victories elevated his season record to 22-9 while Cassella and Day finished with a 20-8 record and 18-12 record, respectively. All three wrestlers are slated to return to Binghamton for the next season and Borshoff hopes to see improvement in his players over the offseason.
“[The offseason] is gonna be trying to figure out how to change that mentality in practice a little bit,” Borshoff said. “I’m excited to have [Assistant Wrestling Coach] Lou DePrez on staff, and I’m gonna have him in the room trying to help drive that point home as a guy that’s placed at this tournament. It’ll be good to have him in there driving that point home [that] we gotta wrestle harder. That’s something that we’re gonna change in our training over the next 12 months, and at the end of the day, we’re not gonna change anything drastically because we’ve improved. I think we have guys that are close but need to get over the hump.”