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Wrestling opens challenging slate at Lehigh on Nov. 8
Bearcats will face three top-10 teams in first month of season
October 30, 2012Tweet
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VESTAL, N.Y.—Binghamton first-year wrestling coach Matt Dernlan will see what his lineup looks like right out of the gate as the 2012-13 Bearcats face a daunting dual meet schedule in the first three weeks of the season.
Dernlan, who took over the program in May, made some adjustments to the original schedule and now sends his squad up against EIWA power Lehigh in the season-opening dual on November 8 – the first of three November matches against teams that finished in the NCAA top-10 last season.
“We wanted to prepare our guys for the NCAAs the best way possible,” Dernlan said of the upgrades to the schedule. “We want them to see the best guys in the country consistently throughout the season and so we added Lehigh and several strong teams at the Northeast Duals. We also gained an invitation to the Midlands Championship. These upgrades will significantly elevate our competitive schedule.”
It will mark the first time since 2007 and just the second time in 13 years that BU opens its season with a dual instead of a tournament. Lehigh placed eighth at the 2012 NCAA Championship and returns five NCAA qualifiers.
The Bearcats then return home to host the Binghamton Open on November 11 at West Gym. The Open, now in its ninth year, attracts more than 300 elite wrestlers in the Northeast and serves as a showcase event for the program.
Bearcats will battle Cornell on November 16
Six days later BU will battle national power Cornell on the road (Nov. 16). The Big Red boasted a fourth-place national finish last season and return two NCAA champions to a strong lineup. Last January, the Bearcats split 10 bouts with the Big Red in a memorable dual televised on Time Warner Cable Sports. The final score was in doubt well after the heavyweight match and Cornell was ultimately awarded the narrow win on the third tiebreak criteria.
“Wrestling Cornell – a program that has been NCAA runnerup twice in the last three years – is always a measuring stick for us,” Dernlan said. “But we don’t want to just compete with them but we need to start beating teams like that. It’s not enough to be in the conversation with these teams and to say ‘almost’ but we want to get the results on our side to take this program to the next level. We want to kick down the door and win duals against the top programs and our guys are embracing that challenge.”
After a year off, Binghamton will return to competition at the New York State Championship – a longstanding event BU captured in 2011. Cornell hosts the tournament on November 17.
Binghamton finishes up the month of November at the Journeyman Northeast Duals, held at Hudson Valley Community College on November 24. There, BU will see Army, Illinois and Rutgers. The Illini finished seventh at the 2012 NCAA Championship.
A trip to Norman, Okla. and a Dec. 2 matchup with the Sooners opens up the December slate. Last season the two teams split 10 bouts but the visiting Sooners escaped Vestal, N.Y. with a 20-15 decision due to bonus points. Oklahoma finished 13th at the 2012 NCAA Championships – one spot above the Bearcats.
Duals against Princeton (Dec. 7) and Boston University (Dec. 9) and the Midlands Championship (Dec. 29-30 at Northwestern) wrap up the calendar year.
“Oklahoma will be a good test for us and the Midlands is a premier in-season event,” Dernlan said.
Two trips to Virginia highlight January slate
In January, BU heads to Hampton, Va., for the 33rd Annual Virginia Duals. The prestigious event features a 16-team bracket and will give the Bearcats 2-3 duals against top-flight opponents over two days at the Hampton Coliseum.
One week later, the Bearcats return to Virginia for the annual CAA Duals. George Mason hosts the event on January 19 and BU will face the host Patriots along with Rider and Drexel. The three duals, along with duals at Old Dominion (Jan. 25) and at home against Hofstra (Feb. 10) are important for head-to-head seeding purposes at the CAA Championship in March.
All eyes will be on home dual against Hofstra
In February, BU heads to D.C. for a dual at American (19th at 2012 NCAAs) before hosting rival Hofstra in Binghamton’s lone home dual of the season on February 10. After claiming a 24-12 dual win last February, BU watched the Pride hoist the CAA championship trophy in the Events Center last March by a slim two-point margin.
“We take that Hofstra match to heart,” Dernlan said. “Along with Cornell … that’s an in-state rival. You’re talking about bragging rights there … and those matches certainly draw more attention and visibility.”
Binghamton completes its dual season on the road at Bloomsburg on February 21.
The CAA Championship will be held at Boston University on March 9 and the NCAA Championships are set for March 21-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa State will host the national championship at the Wells Fargo Arena.
“Everything is about preparation,” Dernlan said. “Our goal is to define and build our reputation in the practice room and each time we compete, with the end-game being the postseason CAA and NCAA Championships. Each competition is a stepping stone and an opportunity to gain momentum leading up to those championships.”
That first step will be taken November 8 in Bethlehem, Pa.