With a second-place finish at the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships and two victories at the NCAA Championships, redshirt junior Jacob Nolan had his best campaign yet for the Binghamton wrestling team during the 2022-23 season. Making the jump to the 184-pound weight class, Nolan finished with a 22-9 overall record last season, gathering multiple key wins against ranked opponents along the way.
In recognition of his improvements and accomplishments this season, Nolan has secured Pipe Dream’s Male Athlete of the Year award. This marks the third time in the last four years that a wrestler has received the award.
“It’s really an honor to win this award, to be honest with you,” Nolan said. “All the work that me and my teammates put in throughout the summer, throughout the fall, winter [and] spring, just all around really paid off this year.”
Nolan entered last offseason coming off of his second NCAA Tournament appearance, where he nabbed his second individual victory. As he trained for the new year, Nolan described how he was approached by Binghamton head coach Kyle Borshoff to jump from the 174-pound weight class to the 184-pound weight class.
“I was ready for the challenge, of course, moving up a weight and helping the team out any way possible,” Nolan said. “So I just tried to get bigger, kept trying to get better at wrestling and the jump in weight class really paid off for me this year.”
One of the first major victories by Nolan in his new class came during the Bearcats’ second dual meet of the year, as they matched up against No. 11 Minnesota. Coming in ranked No. 22, Nolan faced off against then-No. 10 Isaiah Salazar, and managed to secure a tight 5-4 victory after holding off Salazar defensively in the final seconds.
“It really, really showed me that I belong,” Nolan said. “I belonged in this weight class, and I’m one of the best guys in the weight class. So that was a real big confidence booster, definitely.”
After his strong regular season, Nolan entered the EIWA Tournament as the second seed in his class, looking to improve upon a fourth-place finish at last year’s tournament. He would do just that, making it all the way to his first career EIWA finals appearance, alongside securing an automatic berth to his third NCAA tournament, before falling short in his final matchup to finish second.
“I mean, it’s a really great atmosphere,” Nolan said. “Binghamton wrestles in one of the hardest conferences in the country, so just to be in the finals of a tournament like that really shows that the work you’re putting in pays off. And it was just a great experience, to experience that with my teammates, my coaches and my family. It really meant a lot.”
The success continued at the NCAA tournament. While Nolan was immediately sent to the consolation bracket by just a point in his first-round matchup, the grappler notched victories in the first two rounds of the consolation bracket. Not only was this Nolan’s first NCAA Tournament appearance with multiple wins, but he also secured his first major decision win at the tournament with a 12-1 victory over Gardner Webb’s Jha’Quan Anderson in the second consolation round. Nolan’s season came to an end in the next round when he fell short against the tournament’s eventual eighth-place finisher.
“Both the kids I lost [to] ended up on the podium, and that was kind of hard to watch,” Nolan said. “I mean, after I got eliminated, just knowing how close I actually am to becoming an All-American and the level I’m at. It’s kind of hard to watch other guys that you lost by a point [be] on the podium instead of you, but that’s just extra motivation for next year.”
Moving forward, Nolan said he would focus this offseason on healing up and continuing to grow his strength. Nolan credited his coaches, teammates and parents for supporting him during his career thus far.
“Being a smaller school at Binghamton, they really do a great job producing high-level wrestlers, and I owe them so much,” Nolan said. “They’ve helped me grow in every way. They push me every day and make sure I’m getting better. Coach [Borshoff], [Binghamton assistant head coach Fred Garcia], especially [Binghamton assistant head coach Lou DePrez]. [DePrez] pushed me on the mat for the last three years, and now he’s on our coaching staff … Having those guys giving me little things to work on, it really helps.”