Immediate Release: November 9, 2010
VESTAL, N.Y. -- After eclipsing all expectations in a record-breaking 2009-10 season, Binghamton University wrestling has set its sights even higher as the 2010-11 edition prepares to take the mat. With an elite recruiting class joining a strong contingent of returning wrestlers, fifth-year head coach Pat Popolizio believes this year's team can climb even higher on the national ladder.
"This year's team has five returning national qualifiers, which means we have guys with experience, which will be our main strength," Popolizio said. "We also have a great young talent pool so the practice room has been dynamic. We may have to rely on some of this young talent to perform at a high level this year, however, and that may be a concern. How the newcomers progress after being battle-tested like our veterans will determine how successful a season we have."
Last year's squad won a conference championship for the first time in the program's 40-year history and then placed 21st at the NCAA Championship, thanks to a program-best six national qualifiers. Along the way, BU won 14 duals, produced its highest win percentage in 26 years and continued its parallel success in the classroom with NWCA All-Academic Team honors.
"We made some great progress toward our long term goals last season," Popolizio said. "Our goal is to constantly keep improving toward perfection. We want to be a national powerhouse year after year."
Popolizio will have to replace the one wrestler whose success and work ethic came to define the team's Division I growth - four-time NCAA qualifier Josh Patterson. The school's all-time wins leader and its first Division I All-American, Patterson spearheaded the program's rapid ascent, and after winning another CAA title at 174 pounds last season, his graduation leaves a big void in the lineup.
"We lose valuable experience and obvious success with Josh graduating," Popolizio said. "His accomplishments paved the way for the next generation and our future wrestlers can use that as motivation to win at the highest level. We do have some very good young athletes who have the talent to replace Josh and keep the program moving along."
In all, BU returns seven of 10 starters and 18 letterwinners from the 2009-10 team. Ten freshmen will look to make their mark on a program that is gaining momentum by the minute.
"Nick is an unproven great talent," Popolizio said. "I am very impressed with his natural wrestling ability and think he can be a major contributor this year."
"If Anwar keeps working on his mental attitude during matches, he has the ability to do great things this year," Popolizio said.
"Donnie is the most well-rounded wrestler on our team," Popolizio said. "If he can continue to bring his ability to each match like he does in the wrestling room, he will be very hard to beat by anyone in the country."
"Justin is a superb athlete who is very hard to beat," Popolizio said. "If he can combine his talent with his new experiences and recent success, he will put together an outstanding junior season."
"Matt is so consistent and hard-nosed," Popolizio said. "Because of his work ethic and continual improvement, both he and I expect big things this season."
McGarity won 21 matches in a back-up role last season and has been a steady contributor to the program.
Beckwith has the talent to duplicate if not surpass Patterson's legacy at Binghamton. The only four-time NHSCA national champion in history, Beckwith is the top 174-pound recruit in the country (Intermat) and steamrolled to a 210-10 scholastic record and two state championships at nearby Greene High School. A vastly talented wrestler who is adept in virtually all positions on the mat, Beckwith knows how to win. If he can quickly adjust to the collegiate level, he will be an All-America threat from the get-go.
"Tyler is a very talented young wrestler," Popolizio said. "He has proven he can win national tournaments in high school and if he can keep improving, it won't be long before he wins national tournaments in college."
"Nate is a great example of what we want a Binghamton wrestler to be," Popolizio said. "He has made such big strides this off-season. We expect a huge year from him - he will be one of the driving forces to help get our program into the national top-10."
Senior Dan Bittner, who went 14-9 last season, is also in the mix as a solid veteran at the weight.
"We design our schedule to get our guys ready for the end of the year," Popolizio said. "We have some very competitive dates scheduled and will try to grow from week to week as individuals and as a program. Our ultimate goal is to wrestle our best come March."
After the BU Open and Cornell Body Bar Invitational (Nov. 20), the Bearcats will face No. 19 Michigan State and Eastern Michigan in the Sprawl & Brawl on November 21. Then at the Journeymen Northeast Duals in Albany, the Bearcats will face first-time opponent Stanford and a strong Northern Iowa team that finished 40th at the NCAA Championship.
A light December includes stiff competition at the Penn State Nittany Lion Open on December 5.
The slate heats up in January with duals against longtime SUNY rival Buffalo (Jan. 2) and the CAA Duals, hosted by George Mason on January 15. Binghamton will then welcome 17 teams to the West Gym for the New York State Championship on January 22-23.
The Bearcats will face ranked foes in three straight matches beginning with showcase matches against preseason No. 2 Cornell (Jan. 28 at Cornell) and No. 3 Iowa State (Jan. 30 at home) two nights later.
"It's a great honor to wrestle high-ranking programs like Cornell and Iowa State," Popolizio said. "To have a perennial powerhouse like Iowa State come to our home gym is a great sign of how our program is viewed by our sport."
Six duals in February, including a matchup with No. 14 American, wind up the slate before the March postseason. The Bearcats will head to Rider University and the CAA Championship (March 4-5) as the defending champions. From there, BU will look to take advantage of the East Coast site for the NCAA Championship and send multiple wrestlers to Philadelphia for nationals on March 17-19.
"We plan to continue to improve and reach the top-10 at the NCAA Championship in March," he said. "We are working toward repeating as CAA champions again as well. We want to keep producing All-Americans and start producing national champions."
|| Go Back to Home Page ||
Binghamton University. All rights reserved.
No portion of this site may be reproduced or duplicated without the permission of Binghamton University.