Expectations. That was the afternoon’s most frequently repeated word.

After gaining acceptance to the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association — the oldest, and one of the most prestigious, wrestling conferences in the country — in April, high expectations for the Binghamton wrestling team are appropriate.

“If we’re going to get more competitive, and consistently competitive, and that’s the goal … we want to have a sustainable result, where we’re getting that top-20 finish every year,” head coach Matt Dernlan said at the Wrestling Media Day on Thursday.

Under the helm of Dernlan for just one year, the squad will face off against top-25 teams on a weekly basis, and without its top two wrestlers from last season — according to Dernlan, two of the best wrestlers in the history of the program — Donnie Vinson and Nate Schiedel.

Those are big shoes to fill, but with two-time NCAA qualifier and senior Cody Reed returning for his final season, the squad has some dominant experience to anchor it. Reed, who used the offseason to jump up to the next weight category, is looking forward to the challenge of facing five or six ranked wrestlers in each weight class, whereas in the old conference, the Colonial Athletic Association, there were only two or three.

“I’ve got high expectations for myself. I’m planning on being an All-American at the end of the year,” Reed said. “Coach wants me setting my goals high. I want to be a conference champion again, and I just want to leave this team as a top-10 team at nationals, and I don’t see why we can’t do that.”

Reed’s high personal expectations aren’t all he’ll need to focus on, however. He’ll be an integral component in assisting the transition process for the program’s freshmen, who constituted a top-15 recruiting class in the country.

“[Reed’s] been there twice,” Dernlan said. “He knows how to get to the NCAA tournament, he knows how to navigate a really long and demanding season, so it’s really just ‘follow Cody’s lead.’”

And with the need for the freshmen to step forward and help fill roles for each of the 10 weight classes immediately, this next month will be a crucial period of development for the newcomers.

“We’re putting it on these young guys, these freshmen guys, to step up and be leaders now,” Dernlan said. “We’re not waiting for them to see when they can be good, or how quickly they can be good. The expectation is on them right now to go out and be ready to compete.”

Dernlan estimated that they’ll evaluate their wrestlers over the next month to determine who will constitute the starting 10. There’s no final determination yet, and the first opportunity for each Bearcat to prove his potential will come this Sunday, when the team hosts the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open.

“It’s going to be one of the premier events in the entire country, so we’re excited to host that,” Dernlan said.

First match is set for 9 a.m. at the Events Center.