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BU wrestling set to defend team title at CAA Championship this weekend
Bearcats will look to qualify multiple individuals for NCAA Championship
March 2, 2011Tweet
VESTAL, N.Y.—After a regular season that featured a record 16 dual wins and a New York State championship, Binghamton wrestling begins its “second season” this Friday and Saturday at the Colonial Athletic Association Championship, hosted by Rider University (N.J.). The defending conference champion Bearcats will look to qualify as many individuals as possible for the upcoming NCAA Championship and repeat their team title from a year ago.
Despite a lineup featuring five returning NCAA qualifiers, BU won’t be the team favorite, however, as Hofstra has the edge, in terms of nationally-ranked wrestlers and higher-seeded CAA wrestlers. The Bearcats will likely need contributions from all 10 individuals to fend off the Pride for the team crown.
The CAA has been afforded 17 automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Championship, held March 17-19 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The CAA champion at five weight classes (141, 157, 184, 197, Hwt.), the top two finishers at three weights (125, 149, 174) and the top three at 133 and 165 will all advance. Additionally, the NCAA will announce 48 at-large qualifiers on March 9. A total of 33 wrestlers will compete at each weight class at the NCAA Championship.
“Our guys have a lot of confidence and are ready for the challenge,” head coach Pat Popolizio said. “We’ve been wrestling our best lately ... and we have a good tournament-style team. The guys have to show their experience this weekend. We have a legitimate chance to win all nine weights that we are seeded. Our ultimate goal is to get as many guys to NCAAs as possible and I think our team has the talent and mindset to do some great things in the coming weeks.”
Leading the charge for the Bearcats are nationally-ranked sophomores Donnie Vinson (149) and Nate Schiedel (184) and fellow returning NCAA qualifiers Justin Lister (165), Anwar Goeres (141) and Matt Kaylor (157).
Vinson is currently ranked seventh by WIN Magazine, ninth by Intermat and 10th in the NCAA Final Coaches’ Panel Rankings. He finished his dual season with a 21-1 record - the highest dual win percentage (95.5%) in the program’s nine-year Division I era. Vinson (24-3) finished runnerup at last year’s CAA Championship but is the top-ranked wrestler this year. He owns a marquee win over reigning NCAA champion and third-ranked Kyle Dake of Cornell and ranks third in RPI in the country.
Schiedel (31-6) is ranked 13th by WIN, 16th by Intermat and 16th in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings. The reigning CAA champion, Schiedel owns a team-high nine pins this season and his RPI is 12th in the country.
Lister, whose incredible 2010 postseason run featured a CAA title and NCAA All-America honors, is picking up steam again. After making the adjustment up a weight class to 165 in January, Lister is now 19-6 overall. He is ranked fourth in a very tough weight class in the CAA but is ranked 21st in the NCAA Coaches’ Panel Rankings, giving him a good shot at returning to the NCAA Championship after becoming the first BU wrestler to reach the Division I national semifinals a year ago.
In his final collegiate season, Goeres is 22-8 and ranked second in the CAA. The reigning conference champion, he is ranked 29th in the Coaches’ Panel Rankings.
Kaylor (26-9), who earned an at-large NCAA berth after finishing fourth at the CAA Championship last season, is again on the edge of the NCAA bubble. He is rated 31st in the NCAA Coaches’ Panel Rankings but is the top-ranked wrestler in the CAA, where he went 5-0 against CAA foes.
Senior 174-pound Ryan McGarity has put together a strong final season (29-15) and is ranked third in the CAA. Because of a long list of quality opponents, McGarity’s national RPI is 29th and his weight class gets two NCAA qualifiers, giving him a legitimate shot at earning his first national tournament berth.
Reed and Paris are each bumping up a weight class to give the Bearcats more potential team points and despite being undersized at the new weights, each has the talent to contend for a title. Reed (21-15) is ranked sixth in the CAA and Paris (17-11) is positioned at No. 3 in the CAA rankings. Only the champion at 197 and heavyweight will advance to the NCAAs. Steeley, who transferred to Binghamton in January, has shown flashes of brilliance and is positioned sixth at 125, despite owning a win over the nationally-ranked, second-seeded wrestler from Hofstra.
Last season, BU produced four champions and three top-4 finishers to win the CAA title. Binghamton accumulated 87.5 points, ahead of ODU’s 73 points and the rest of the eight-team field.