Wrestling team grapples to win
This year, Wrestling head coach Mark Cody has reason to be excited as his team prepares to improve upon last year's two win season.
"We've brought in a good recruiting class, but we are going to redshirt all of our new kids," Cody said. "We're hoping to see some improvement from last year's team. This year's lineup [for NCAA meets] will basically be the same."
That lineup will include fifth-year senior Jared Hyman, the most veteran wrestler, who finished last year with a 16-9 record. Joining Hyman will be juniors Eric Fantegrossi, Adam Montgomery, Daniel Waters and Matthew Pelligrino, and sophomore Daniel Lobsenz.
With an extra year of experience and tutelage under Cody, the Eagles figure to drastically improve.
"Daniel Lobsenz has improved quite a bit from last year," Cody said. "And Jared Hyman, a senior, it's his last shot, and we are looking for him to improve."
A big part of the Eagles' success will depend on their schedule, which Cody said they have improved from last year.
"We definitely have a beefed up schedule compared to last year," Cody said. "We wrestle Northwestern, Arizona State and Missouri, and we also will have some guys competing in the Midlands Tournament, which is the toughest open tournament in the nation."
The highlight of the schedule appears to be a late season meet on Feb. 7, when the Eagles host Navy, Eastern Michigan and North Carolina in a showdown that will prove just how far they've come.
This past Saturday, the Eagles opened their season in Lexington, Va., at the Keydet Invitational. Tom Kniezewski, a sophomore, and freshman Dwane Hash-Barberis, won their weight classes, giving Cody significant contributions from two of the Eagles' younger stars.
In addition, Lobsenz placed fourth in what he hopes will be his breakout year.
Next up for the Eagles is this weekend's instructional session, which will feature an appearance from all-time college great Cael Sanderson, who will provide one-on-one instruction for the Eagles.
While this year will be an improvement, the real breakout should occur next year, when the Eagles debut this year's prize recruiting class, who are all redshirting this season.
"I think it's better for the program down the line if we redshirt our freshmen," Cody said. "Those freshmen will still wrestle about 30 matches a year in the open tournaments that aren't NCAA events. Next year we intend to field the best team available whether those are freshmen or not."
One wrestler who may give the Eagles a boost this year is Daniel Waters, a transfer from Penn State, who will wrestle in the 184-pound weight class. Waters was a starter at Penn State and should improve the Eagles' attack.
Cody knows his team will improve and hopes to post more than two wins this year. But, as with any rebuilding process, it will be slow and tedious. Changes don't happen overnight, and Cody knows this.
No matter how conservative he can be though, he'd be foolish not to be just a little, if not very, excited about this upcoming year.
"Hopefully some new guys or guys who struggled in the past will step up this year," Cody said.
One thing is for sure, though- this weekend's appearance by Cael Sanderson won't be the only excitement the wrestling team creates this year.
After the team hosts the coaches' clinic Nov. 14-15, they travel to New York for the Binghamton Tournament on Nov. 15-16.