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Wrestling earns first-ever national top 25 ranking

Undefeated Bearcats surge after beating Purdue, Arizona State

November 29, 2011

Wrestling earns first-ever national top 25 ranking

NWCA/USA Today Poll

Contact: John Hartrick (

VESTAL, N.Y.—Following its first-ever win over a Big Ten program, Binghamton wrestling (6-0) earned another distinction on Monday when the Bearcats were positioned inside the nation’s top 25 for the first time in program history. In the NWCA/USA Today Coaches Poll, BU moved in at No. 25 with 40 points, just behind No. 24 American (41 pts.). Binghamton had been “receiving votes” in the previous poll.

“This is a great accomplishment for us,” sixth-year head coach Pat Popolizio said.  “It’s a direct result of all the hard work and dedication that our guys have shown. There are a lot of people who have invested time and energy into our program and it’s really starting to show. We will continue to improve off these rankings and look to produce our first NCAA champion and multiple All-Americans.”

The Bearcats went 4-0 at the Journeymen Northeast Duals, held Saturday at Hudson Valley CC. Popolizio’s squad was the only school among 16 to wrestle four matches on the day and despite the grueling schedule, the Bearcats earned wins over Purdue, Arizona State, Army and Eastern Michigan to continue their hot start. The team equaled the program record for most wins to start a season and will have a chance to set the new standard when they face Princeton on the road this Saturday.

In its 10-year Division I history, BU has always produced several individual standouts and the team has been among the nation’s top 25 for perceived NCAA tournament strength based on that individual potential. But this year’s roster is strong throughout the starting lineup and the NWCA/USA Today Poll, which is based on dual meet strength alone, is a testament to the widespread depth of the program. 

Additionally, BU individuals moved up the ladder in the various rankings. Junior 149-pound Donnie Vinson climbed to No. 6 in the latest WIN Magazine poll and was No. 9 in both the Intermat and Open Mat rankings. Vinson, 10-1 this season, went a perfect 4-0 at the Northeast Duals, including a dominating 18-2 technical fall over the then-No. 6 wrestler from Purdue. Senior 157-pound Justin Lister moved to No. 65 in both the WIN Magazine and Open Mat rankings and was positioned at No. 6 in the Intermat poll. Lister is also 10-1 on the season. Freshman heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski won twice and had a narrow loss to the 11th-ranked and All-American wrestler from Arizona State. Gwiazdowski is 10-2 this season and is ranked 11th in the Open Mat poll.

The Bearcats are at Princeton on Saturday and wrestle in the Penn State Open on Sunday. 

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