Binghamton 2013-14 Season Preview: Bearcats Ready for New Conference, New Opportunities

The Binghamton Bearcats enter their second season under head coach Matt Dernlan with some exciting changes.  There is a new conference, an expanded home schedule and the arrival of a top 25 recruiting class.  Assistant Jasen Borshoff spoke to New York Wrestling News about the upcoming campaign, including the projected lineup and expectations for 2013-14.

New York Wrestling News (NYWN): It will be your first year in the EIWA conference. What does that move mean for the program?

Jasen Borshoff (JB): We couldn’t be happier. The EIWA is a better place to be for us.  There are great teams and we’re more aligned from an academic profile standpoint.  It also helps our travel budget – we can get to so many of the schools within three hours.  There are also more qualifying spots for nationals, which will give our guys a lot of opportunities. We’re really excited to be part of the EIWA.

NYWN: What are some of the highlights of your schedule this year?

JB:  We have seven home matches this year instead of one.  That’s exciting.  For the most part, we’ll be wrestling most of the EIWA teams in duals and we’re excited about the Journeymen/Asics Northeast Duals in Albany.  Going to Midlands is always a good test for the guys.  Right off the bat, we’ll get good gauge of where we are with the Bearcat Open at home.  We typically cut off the field at 300 wrestlers, but this year, we have a goal of 500 kids.  We’ll do 12 mats at the Events Center and there will be a lot of really good wrestlers there.  Cornell usually sends most of the team.  This year, Penn State will be sending guys and so will Ohio State, Lehigh and other really good teams.  It will be big for our team, especially because it will decide a few of our weights for the early season.

NYWN: What are the expectations for the team this year?

JB: We’d like to have half our team qualify for nationals and have some All-Americans.  The way I see it, we can’t do any worse than last year because we didn’t have any All-Americans.  We’re looking to change that this year.

Let’s take a look at the weight-by-weight to see who will try to break through to the podium for the Bearcats in 2013-14:

125 Pounds:

A number of the spots in the lineup have a strong favorite.  This isn’t necessarily one of them.  A pair of wrestlers who racked up large win totals last year – David White and Mike Sardo – continue to battle it out at the lightest weight.  (White redshirted while Sardo took over at 125 when starter Patrick Hunter was injured). White has some experience in the EIWA, having placed sixth at 125 for Army at the conference tournament in his freshman season before transferring.

“This weight is up in the air,” Borshoff said. “Both guys have gotten a lot better over the past year.  Mike had the fourth most wins on the team last year and David also won at least 25 matches.  That will be a weight to watch at the [Bearcat] Open.”

133:

Nick Tighe, Photo by BV

A familiar face to Empire State wrestling fans is likely to man 133 pounds as a true freshman.  New York’s 2013 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner, Nick Tighe of Phoenix, looks to carry over his high school success to the college level after finishing his career with his third straight state title in 2013 (at 138 pounds).

“Nick has gotten his weight down and is a wrecking ball,” Borshoff said. “He’s really tough and hard to wrestle. We’re excited to see how he’ll look at the Open in his first competition.”

141:

While Tighe won the state championship at 138 pounds in Division II a year ago, Nick Kelley accomplished that feat at the same weight in Division I.  Kelley has impressed so far, but will most likely redshirt.  Looking to start at 141 are a trio of grapplers – Dylan Cohen, Dylan Caruana and David Almaviva.

“This will be a very young weight for us,” Borshoff said. “[Caruana] redshirted last year and has put on a lot of size this summer. [Cohen] was pulled out of redshirt during the season last year and is now at a better weight – he struggled to make 133 last year.  [Almaviva] is a true freshman. He may only have one year in him at 141 before moving up, so we’ll see how he does. The question is who will show up most at the Open?  We’re not sure what will happen here yet.”

149:

Joe Bonaldi started last season with a bang.  At the Binghamton Open, he defeated returning All-American Mike Nevinger in his opening bout and won the title, also topping NCAA qualifier Dan Neff.  In the process, he entered the national rankings and looked primed for a breakout campaign.  Unfortunately, an injury prevented that from taking place.  He made a return to the lineup very late in the season, competing just once before the CAA tournament. The Bearcats are excited to have the Rochester native back.

“Joe’s doing really well,” Borshoff said. “He was doing really well last year early on too.  He came back for the CAAs last year, but it was too long of a layoff before that. It will be interesting to see how the move to 149 works – he’ll be tested right away at the Open. He’s a guy to keep an eye on this year. He’s definitely very talented and he gives [assistant coach] Teyon [Ware] trouble in the room and we know how good Teyon is.”

157:

Last year’s starter Jack McKeever will redshirt, and three wrestlers will look to get the nod in this class – Nick Mauriello, Ben Price and Brian Conrad.  Conrad was a spot starter last season, while Mauriello redshirted.  In high school, Mauriello earned fourth in New York as a senior for Hauppauge while Price was a two-time Vermont state champion and Conrad won the Section 8 title, according to the Binghamton athletics website.

165:

Vincent Grella returns after handling the starting duties in 2012-13.  He topped Drexel’s Connor Moran at the CAA championships.

“He got a lot better at the end of last year,” Borshoff said. “He wrestles hard and got some good experience.  We think he’ll have a good year for us.”

174:

In 2011, John Paris was the CAA Rookie of the Year.  But injuries have interrupted him since then. However, he’s expected to be the starter once again after winning the job for the postseason a year ago.

“John’s a talented wrestler but he’s always been plagued by injuries,” Borshoff said. “Last year, John and Caleb Wallace kept flip flopping back and forth as our starter, but John won the final wrestleoff to take the spot.  Bringing in [two-time New York state champion] Zack Zupan, who is doing very well but probably redshirting, has made John a lot better.  He’s been fighting hard – he sees the competition and wants the spot.”

184:

After battling both Paris and injuries last season, Caleb Wallace is ready to take hold of the 184-pound role.  Wallace began the 2012-13 campaign well, defeating eventual EIWA champion Nathaniel Brown of Lehigh in an early dual by fall.

“Caleb is another good wrestler for us who has had trouble staying healthy,” Borshoff said. “We’re excited to see how he does moving up a weight after having a decent cut to make 174 last year.”

197:

Cody Reed is the only projected starter who wrestled at the NCAAs last year.  In fact, he has been to Nationals twice. In 2012, he registered one of the big upsets of the first round in St. Louis when he topped fourth-seeded Christian Boley of Maryland at 197 pounds, before finishing 2-2.  Last season, Reed dropped down to 184 and once again qualified for the “Big Show”, going 0-2 following an 18-win campaign.  Now, he’ll be back at 197 again, looking to win a few more matches on the national stage.

“Cody went down to 184 last year when Nate Schiedel moved up, but Cody’s much better off at 197,” Borshoff said. “He’s very capable – I wouldn’t count him out at Nationals.  He was up and down last year, but got the job done in the qualifier.  He wanted to do better at Nationals, but he has his senior year to look forward to.”

285:

Tyler Deuel moved from 197 to heavyweight before last season and wound up with the third most wins on the team, according to Borshoff.  Now, with a year of experience at the heaviest weight class, the coach thinks he’s ready to show even more.

“Tyler’s a great kid, always working out extra and trying to learn,” Borshoff said. “He had a good year last year and he’ll do even better this year because he’s acclimated to the weight.  This year he’s a very solid 245 pounds – he’s ripped for a heavyweight.”

Borshoff had very positive things to say about the standout rookie class. Some were mentioned above.  Others, such as multiple-time New York State champion Kyle Kelly, NYS placer Robert Person and two-time silver medalist Bryce Mazurowski, will likely redshirt.

—————————-

How will the first year in the EIWA go? How many wrestlers will Binghamton qualify for the NCAAs this year?  We’ll find out more as Binghamton opens the season on November 10 at home with the Bearcat Open.

Note: the Bearcat Open has been renamed the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open to honor the memory of Navy Seal (and former Binghamton wrestler) Jonathan Kaloust, who died during a training accident this spring.

 

Hofstra Wins CAA Championship; Vinson and Reed Capture Titles for Binghamton

 
 

Hofstra came into this weekend having won 10 of the last 11 CAA championships. The Pride did it again on Saturday in Boston, led by titlewinners Steve Bonanno at 125 and Jamie Franco at 133. Franco was the #4 seed, but he upended returning gold medalist Scott Festejo of Old Dominion in the semis before topping Binghamton’s Derek Steeley in the final bout.

Franco, Photo by BV

Also picking up significant team points for Hofstra were runner up Jermaine John at 174 and bronze winners Luke Vaith (141), Cody Ruggirello (149), Tyler Banks (157) and Taras Luzhnyy (184).

With their showings, Bonanno, Franco and Vaith all picked up automatic bids to the NCAA tournament.

Binghamton captured a pair of titles on Saturday, as Donnie Vinson won for the second straight year at 149 while Cody Reed defeated Ryan Wolfe of Rider in overtime at 184. For his efforts, Vinson was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler.

Taking second were Nate Schiedel at 197 and the previously mentioned Steeley at 133.

All four of those Bearcat grapplers will be making the trip to Des Moines for the Nationals in a few weeks.

For results and brackets from the event, see here.

Binghamton 2012-13 Season Preview With Assistant Coach Jasen Borshoff

Binghamton had a terrific 2011-12 season, winning 15 dual meets and earning the best NCAA finish in program history (14th).  The Bearcats boasted two All-Americans (Donnie Vinson at 149 and Nick Gwiazdowski at 285) and had three other wrestlers win at least two bouts at nationals.  The team has undergone change over the past several months, as head coach Pat Popolizio and assistant Frank Beasley moved to North Carolina State and Matt Dernlan and Teyon Ware came on board to replace them.  (Gwiazdowski joined the Wolfpack as well).

Assistant coach Jasen Borshoff is back and he spoke to New York Wrestling News about the upcoming season, beginning with a weight-by-weight look at the lineup.

125 Pounds  – Last year’s starter Derek Steeley returns, but he’ll be challenged by two accomplished wrestlers — former 125-pound Junior College national champion Patrick Hunter (who manned the 133 spot for the Bearcats in 2011-12) and Army transfer David White, who placed at the EIWAs in 2011 as a true freshman.

Coach Borshoff:  “We have a three-way race for 125.  Right now, I’m not sure who will win the job.  Steeley is back and White has three years left after coming in from Army.  He beat a handful of Top 25 guys last year before transferring and redshirting.

Pat Hunter may have been the smallest 133 pounder I’ve ever seen in my entire life.   When [Hunter] came in to Binghamton, he had a lot on his plate.  We wanted him to focus on starting a new school, meeting new people and wrestling without having to worry about weight. But he’s really matured a lot in the year he’s been here and he’s ready to be back at 125.”

133 Pounds – Two years ago Dan Riggi filled the 133 slot and after a redshirt campaign, he’ll try to earn the nod again.  But he’ll have competition from another wrestler who took a redshirt last year – Tyler Pendergast.

Coach Borshoff:  “Just like at 125, it’s not clear who will win the spot.  Riggi had a pretty good year last season and he’s a goer who always wrestles hard. Tyler wrestled in the second half of the season and got hurt.  He was a three-time Delaware state champion and a Beast of the East finalist.  So, he has a very good pedigree and has the chance to show it in college.”

141 Pounds:  Joe Bonaldi and Derak Heyman know each other pretty well.  The Empire State natives wrestled in high school and now they will compete for the Binghamton starting job. Another potential contender is junior college national runner up Vinny DiGravio, who transferred in from Mercyhurst Northeast.

Coach Borshoff: “There will be a lot of competition at this weight.  Joe Bonaldi wrestled as a true freshman and I think he faced more ranked opponents than anyone else on the team.  He’s ready for the next step.  Derak was injured last year but he did wrestle at the Penn State Open and placed as a true freshman.  Those two are very close in the room – they really battle it out and make each other better.  It’s possible that Vinny may redshirt.”

149 Pounds – While the first three weights are undecided, 149 isn’t in question.  Donnie Vinson comes off a third place finish at NCAAs in which he won seven matches in a row following a first round loss.  He also captured Most Outstanding Wrestler honors at the CAA tournament and compiled a 40-5 record overall with 28 bonus point wins.  He will be among the favorites to stand on top of the podium at nationals in 2013.

Coach Borshoff:  “Donnie’s the man at 149.  He’s taken ownership of being a team leader, which is great to see.   He’s been working on some little things like head and hand position. He’s so aggressive and explosive that he opens himself up sometimes.  The third place match at NCAAs was a perfect example. He took it to his opponent but made little mistakes at crucial times. Last year, he thought he was good enough to win nationals.  The difference this year is that he knows he’s good enough to win.”

157 Pounds/165 Pounds – Justin Lister and Matt Kaylor were two very successful multi-year starters for the Bearcats in the middleweights.  Three candidates are in the mix to replace them – Joe Chamish, Vinny Grella and Adam Lepkowsky.

Coach Borshoff:  “It will be interesting to see how these weights play out for us.  Joe Chamish spot started for us last year at 157.  Vinny and Adam are both redshirt freshmen.  They’re all young and none have ever been there.  It’s a new frontier for them.  They have to go out and work hard and capitalize on their opportunity to start.”

174 PoundsCaleb Wallace (11 wins in 2011-12) and John Paris (the 2011 CAA Rookie of the Year) squared off for the spot last season at 174 and they’ll do it again.

Coach Borshoff:  “Last year, the guys were so close and Caleb actually won the wrestleoff.  But it was such a close match and John had such a great season the year before, we were planning to start whoever did better in competition.  Then in his second match of the year, John tore his ACL and was out for the year.  Caleb stepped in and did very well.  He took third in the CAA and showed a lot of improvement. Now, John’s back and healthy and they’ll battle it out.  They’re very different wrestlers.  John’s more explosive from the outside and Caleb likes to roll around. Both wrestle hard and are young and improving.  This is a weight where we’ll be more mature and better than last year.”

184 PoundsCody Reed, who has racked up 47 victories while starting at 197 pounds the past two seasons, will move down to 184 for the upcoming campaign.

Coach Borshoff: “Cody Reed was an undersized 197.  He was trying to keep his weight up during the season.  Cody had a great end of the year, upsetting the #4 seed [Maryland’s Christian Boley] at the NCAAs.  It was a huge confidence builder for him.  He saw that he was good enough to compete at the national level and he’s been working on a lot of little things to get better.  I think he’s good enough to be an All-American but that’s up to him.  He’s very strong and explosive for the weight.”

197 Pounds – After three seasons of wrestling well and qualifying for nationals at 184, Nate Schiedel moves up to 197 for his senior campaign.  He sported a 30-10 mark in 2011-12.

Coach Borshoff:  “Nate’s a leader and a captain and guys really respect him.  In hindsight, he was too big for 184 last year.  He’s a house right now.  When [head coach Matt Dernlan] got here, he couldn’t believe Nate made 184.  Honestly, we were contemplating having him go heavyweight.  Last year, he was always in great shape, but you could see him hurting at times.  He sucked it up and won matches because he’s a winner, but it was tough.  He’s had a good career so far where he’s been ranked in the top 10 several times.  At 197, we’re expecting a huge, huge year from him.”

285 Pounds – With the departure of All-American Nick Gwiazdowski to North Carolina State, New York native Tyler Deuel will step into the heavyweight role.

Coach Borshoff: “Tyler spot started last year at 197 but he’s a big-sized heavyweight now, probably around 250.  Starting in May, we put him on a weightlifting program and he’s put on a lot of good weight.  He’s doing pretty well so far; his body is getting used to carrying around the extra weight.  The spotlight will be on him and we’ll see how he handles it.  He’s young and inexperienced, but he’s talented and capable of doing a great job.”

A Few More Things . . .

Tell us a little bit about being part of the new coaching staff.

Coach Borshoff:  “It’s been awesome. We’ve meshed really well.  We have the same philosophies and are focused on working hard but working smart.  We want to make sure guys are enjoying competing.  Sometimes you get to the national tournament and guys are done. They’re sick of the season and the grind.  Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen and that’s the philosophy and training [Dernlan] brought in.

One thing I thought was cool was to see the guys who competed at the Olympics call [Dernlan] to thank him for helping them reach their goals.  When you see the guys who are competing for World and Olympic titles, you realize there’s another level out there and that winning national titles isn’t the biggest thing.  It takes some pressure off the guys and it lets them see that [Dernlan] has impacted very high level wrestlers.”

What are the team’s goals for this year?

“We were excited about last year, but we’re not satisfied with being 14th in the country.  There were 13 teams ahead of us and every year we want to plug away and get better and better.

We want national champions and All-Americans.  But the goal setting is the job of the guys on the team.  Ultimately, if our goals as coaches are bigger than theirs, it won’t matter. Binghamton is on the map now and I think everyone wants to keep Binghamton moving up the totem pole.”

Who are some of the freshman entering the room this year?

“One of the main reasons Coach Dernlan took the job was that he believes New York State is untapped.  There’s so much talent here.  We believe you can do really big things with New York kids and we brought in a lot of good ones.

Tristan Hamner (Medina) never won a state title and that’s surprising when you see how talented he is. We also have state runner ups Brady Baron (Pittsford) and Dylan Cohen (Williamsville East) as well as Dylan Caruana (Kenmore West), who took fifth.  Nick Mauriello (Hauppauge) was fourth in a tough weight last year and Jack McKeever was third in New England.  All the guys are pretty talented and they’re all good, hard working kids.  They’re real student-athletes who are here to compete in the room but also understand that they need to work hard in school because wrestling doesn’t pay the bills for most people.”

What else should we look for from Binghamton this season?

“We can’t wait for the season to start.  We’re ready to start practice and get the guys in the room.  They worked all summer and we’ll see where we are.  We’re excited for another great year.”

 

Top Talent Comes Together for Fourth Annual Adam Frey Classic On Sunday

Adam Frey

It’s hard not to be excited about the Adam Frey Classic this year.  Just ask Penn State National Champion Ed Ruth.

According to Adam Frey Foundation Board Member Josh Liebman, Ruth was in the middle of a special family occasion when he was contacted about the event.

“Ed had a lot going on, but he called back right away and said he definitely wanted to do it,”  Liebman said. “It was on his mind enough that he couldn’t wait until the next day to call.”

In the fourth annual event for the Adam Frey Foundation, Ruth will square off against Lehigh’s two-time All-American Robert Hamlin in the feature bout in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

“We were trying to think of matchups that would be really exciting for wrestling fans and we knew [Hamlin] would be involved,” Liebman said. “He and his family have been really supportive of the Foundation and with the event being at Lehigh this year, it was a great fit.”

Ruth has posted first and third place finishes at NCAAs, while Hamlin has taken second and fourth.

After holding the first three Adam Frey Classics at Rider, Liebman is excited for the new location at Grace Hall on Lehigh’s campus.

“So far, it’s been nothing but great,” he said. “Everyone has been very supportive and interested in being part of the event and helping it grow.  The sports marketing staff has helped out and the coaches have too. I really wanted to get Pennsylvania involved since Adam was from there.  It’s like he’ll be closer to home, at least for a year.”

Besides the new arena, another addition in 2012 is a match of high school stars with the top rising junior in the country, Chance Marstellar, taking on New Jersey state champion Johnny Sebastian.

“We’ve never done a high school vs. high school match before,” Liebman said. “Last year, because of an injury, [Blair Academy’s] Brooks Black stepped in to wrestle Zach Rey.  But this year, Marstellar really wanted to be a part of it.  The college kids weren’t in a hurry to wrestle him, but [Sebastian] was excited.  He loves to test himself.  I expect Johnny to start next season ranked in the top 5 or 10 at his weight, so I think it’s a premiere matchup.”

It’s one of many bouts Liebman is looking forward to viewing.  (The full lineup is listed below). He believes the tilt between 141 pound All-Americans Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly) and Perry, NY native Mike Nevinger (Cornell) will be one to watch.

“That match may not jump out at people, but I can’t wait for it,” Liebman said. “They’re both so tough on top and a little funky on their feet.  I think it could steal the show.”

While heavyweight battles aren’t typically the most entertaining affairs, Liebman is anticipating 2012 All-American Nick Gwiazdowski’s meeting with former Pittsburgh Panther Ryan Tomei. He predicts good action and “not a lot of the hanging on you often see at heavy.”

Liebman added that having Gwiazdowski, a former star at Duanesburg High, in the event is exciting for another reason.  When he was a senior in high school, the recent NC State transfer participated in the New York-New Jersey Charity Challenge, which benefitted the Adam Frey Foundation.  In fact, Gwiazdowski’s pin sealed the victory for the Empire State.

“It’s something I’d like to have on a regular basis — having guys be a part of an event in high school and staying involved with our organization in college.  It feels like watching guys grow up through your peewee program,” Liebman said. “That’s what’s great about the wrestling community.  Everyone, even if they didn’t know Adam personally, wants to know his story and get involved.”

Adam Frey’s alma mater, Blair Academy, has been very involved from the start.  This year, the event will be set up as a dual meet between Blair and Angry Fish with several alums of those squads coaching and competing.  As a bonus, Monroe Woodbury’s Vinny Vespa, who is fighting Stage 4 cancer, may serve as an honorary coach.

Nevinger and Gwiazdowski won’t be the only representatives from the Empire State.  All-American Justin Accordino of Hofstra will take the mat, as will John Jay graduate Billy Watterson (Brown), Brockport native Christian Boley, Columbia’s Jake O’Hara, Cornell’s Caleb Richardson and Binghamton’s Pat Hunter and Cody Reed.  In addition, Beat the Streets (BTS) wrestlers from New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore will participate in exhibition bouts between 1 and 2 p.m. before the main event begins.

“I’m really excited about having BTS,” Liebman said. “It’s a chance for kids to get outside the city.  One of the important parts of the BTS program is for kids to strive for a college education, even if it’s outside of wrestling.  This is a great chance for the kids to visit a college campus and see that it’s something they may want.”

What Liebman wants is to fill Grace Hall as close to capacity as possible.  He wants the wrestling community to come together to support the Foundation and celebrate Adam Frey’s life.

“In the past, our events have had a fun atmosphere,” he said. “Top talent comes but since it’s not a pressure situation, the guys go out there and relax and wrestle.  It’s more open, more fun. It quickly becomes a feeling of reunion rather than a somber event where we’re memorializing Adam.  Adam wouldn’t have wanted that; he wouldn’t want a moment of silence.  He’d rather have everyone having a good time.”

Exhibition Matches 1-2 p.m. – Beat the Streets New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore

Main Event Matches, Beginning at 2 p.m.

Chuck Zeisloft (Rider) vs. Billy Watterson (Brown)

Nic Bedelyon (Kent State) vs. Steve Mytych (Drexel)

Mike Nevinger (Cornell) vs. Boris Novachkov (Cal Poly)

Tyler Small (Kent State) vs. Vinnie Fava (Rider)

Caleb Richardson (Cornell) vs. Pat Hunter (Binghamton)

BJ Young (Newberry) vs. CJ Cobb (UPenn)

Justin Accordino (Hofstra) vs. Jake O’Hara (Columbia)

James Fleming (Clarion) vs. Joey Napoli (Lehigh)

Ian Miller (Kent State) vs. Shane Welch (Lehigh)

Chance Marsteller vs. Johnny Sebastian*

Bekzod Abduakhmanov (Clarion) vs. Josh Asper (Maryland)

Nathaniel Brown (Lehigh) vs. Jimmy Resnick (Rider)

Jimmy Sheptock (Maryland) vs. Ricky McDonald (Brown)

Christian Boley (Maryland) vs. Andrew Campolattano (Ohio State)

Nick Gwiazdowski (NC State) vs. Ryan Tomei (Pitt/ OTC)

Max Wessell (Lehigh) vs. Cody Reed (Binghamton)

Robert Hamlin (Lehigh) vs. Ed Ruth (Penn State)**

*High School match

**Featured bout

***Match-ups provided by Josh Liebman

To purchase tickets in advance: http://ev6.evenue.net/cgi-bin/ncommerce3/SEGetEventList?groupCode=S&linkID=global-lehigh&shopperContev6.evenue.net

For more information, please visit adamfrey.us