the programs second year as a Division I member, the Bearcats
still have an underdog label, though sixth-year
head coach Mike Fusilli believes his young team could emerge
as a strong presence in the Colonial Athletic Association by
This team has worked harder to this point than any other
BU team during my tenure here, Fusilli said. I am
excited about the their potential by the end of the season.
I think we can surprise some people.
Remaining healthy and during a long four-month season will be
crucial to the teams dual match success and performance
at the year-end conference championship, where the Bearcats placed
ninth out of 12 teams last year.
Improving upon the teams dual match record from a year
ago also is heavily dependent upon the injury factor. Last season,
injuries forced Fusilli to forfeit as many as three matches in
some duals, and his Bearcats absorbed 13 losses as a result.
Young lineup might take semester to jell
This years squad is loaded with underclassmen, and as many
as five freshmen could hold down starting spots as the season
Our freshmen all have the potential to develop as we get
into the thick of the schedule, Fusilli said. Three
of those five (Gregg, Gartiser, Willard) could really make some
strides by the end of the season.
Here is a capsule look at the Bearcats by the weight class.
In one of the weight classes that was unoccupied for most of
2001-02, Fusilli will turn to freshman Kyle Willard, a
three-time Vermont state champion. Willard was an All-American
for a nationally-prominent program at Mount Anthony Union.
Kyle is committed to being better, and tries to improve
every single day, Fusilli said. He doesnt
back down, and tries to score wherever he can. He just needs
to get stronger.
Freshman Mike Shannon, a sectional placewinner from Colonie
High in Albany, will also see time.
Freshman John Gartiser, a state runner-up for powerhouse
Monroe-Woodbury High, has followed his brother Joe to Binghamton,
and has earned the starting role.
John is a good young talent who should develop quickly,
Fusilli said. He has great speed, motion and mat sense.
Talented red-shirt freshman Matt Barnes, who earned a
starting spot last year before suffering a shoulder injury, should
return to the lineup in January.
One of the strengths in BUs lineup is at 141, where sophomore
captain Josh Ruff will be a force. Ruff was 18-5 and
ranked second in the CAA before a shoulder injury curtailed his
freshman season. Fusilli expects him to be a threat to win the
schools first CAA crown.
Josh is a very talented and hard-working wrestler,
Fusilli said. He should contend for an NCAA Championship
Sophomore Joe Gartiser has a hold of the starting spot
at 149. He won seven matches in a starting role at 141 last
season, and should be a consistent performer.
Junior captain Justin Hoch, who won 17 matches in 2000-01
before red-shirting last season, will also see action.
This weight class is a solid one for Fusilli, who will look to
immensely talented senior captain Joe Privitere to carry
a large load in his final collegiate campaign. He has moved
up a weight class, but has made great strength gains in the off-season.
This is Joes last chance to solidify his spot in
BU wrestling history, Fusilli said. Its his
last chance to achieve his own personal goals. He certainly
has the competitiveness and skill to get to the NCAA tournament.
Despite being slowed by a knee injury, Privitere went 15-7 last
year, including a 7-2 mark in duals.
Sophomore Rob Sckalor, who won 11 matches and posted a
4-4 dual mark, will back up.
Sophomore Ryan Jantzen has been a pleasant surprise this
pre-season, and has earned the starting nod. He went 15-12 as
a freshman at 157, and came close to placing at the CAA Championship.
Fusilli has been impressed with his work ethic, and expects
Jantzen to continue to improve with each bout.
Ryan has come a long way, Fusilli said. He
is one of the hardest working guys on the team. He will learn
from mistakes and try to improve during practice time. Ryan
hasnt reached his full potential yet, but certainly has
done a lot growing since hes been here.
Sophomore Mark Tse, a New York State placewinner as a
freshman, will back up, as will senior Jason Rosenthal,
and junior transfer Joao Moreira.
Junior Jeff McAveney is back as the starter after a strong
sophomore season. He went 24-15 overall, and won a team-best
11 dual matches. McAveney was a runner-up at the Citadel Invitational
and also was a state
Jeff placed in every tournament last season, and is now
in the best weight class for him to be competitive," said
Fusilli. "This is his year to make a statement in the conference.
Sophomore Ron Foster and freshman Jeff Vitale will
back up. Foster, who won 11 matches as a freshman, will return
to the lineup in January. Vitale is a Nassau County runner-up
and two-time league champion.
Fusilli is lean in this weight class, but is hopeful that talented
junior Jerome Joe will return to his starting role. Joe
placed fifth at the state championship before injuring his shoulder
last winter. Vitale will open the season as the starter at 184.
Freshman Derman Lewis, a scholastic standout at Schalmont
High School in Albany, takes over the starting spot. Lewis won
both the freestyle and Greco-Roman titles at the New York/USA
Wrestling State Championship last year, and was a two-time sectional
Burly freshman Jon Gregg takes over the big shoes left
by NCAA qualifier Craig Tefft. Gregg, who red-shirted last season
with a back injury, is a good young talent who could immediately
make an impact in the conference, despite being off the mat for
Jons a rugged, hard-to-score on wrestler who is a
very competitive person, Fusilli said. His potential
is unlimited, theres no doubt about it.
Gregg was a state champion and three-time state placewinner for
Veteran heavyweight Nick Cadmus will serve in a backup
role in his final collegiate season.
The 2002-03 slate features a blend of dual matches and challenging
tournament competition leading into the Colonial Athletic Association
Championship on March 7-9.
The Bearcats will again host their own season-opening event,
and in the first semester, will also compete at the prestigious
Beast of the East tournament hosted by Delaware. Duals against
state rivals Buffalo and Army also highlight the home schedule
in the first semester.
In January, BU will see top conference opponents Drexel and Hofstra
at the CAA Duals, and Fusillis team will look to crown
another champion at the New York State Championship, hosted by
Buffalo on January 17-18. A first-ever trip to Raleigh for the
N.C. State Duals presents a strong challenge as well.
In February, the Bearcats will return to the East Gym mat for
The NCAA Championship departs nearby Albany and will take place
in Kansas City, Mo. beginning on March 20.
Despite having a relatively young lineup, Fusilli is excited
about his teams potential come February.
We want and need every team member to improve each week,
Fusilli said. I think we will be strong at 141, 157, 165,
174 and at heavyweight. But by the end of the year I also believe
125 and 133 will be promising.
I think our young guys will develop and we could a stronger
showing in duals during the second semester.
Fusilli is priming his team to finish strong in March, and is
hopeful BU can move up a few pegs at the conference championship.
We want to have two NCAA qualifiers and finish in the top