Despite only having two representatives at the Appalachian State University Open Jan. 26, the Drexel University men’s wrestling team saw a great amount of success come the way of both of their performers in Boone, North Carolina.
The two wrestlers competing for Drexel were sophomore Evan Barczak and freshman Anthony Walters. Both Dragons secured top places in their brackets, while also coming across several elite prospects from some of the top programs in collegiate wrestling.
Barczak was entered into the 157-pound category, where he began his campaign against Presbyterian College sophomore Hunter Corwin. Barczak completed six takedown attempts while also gaining points for near pins to earn a nine-point advantage over Corwin going into the second period.
Domination from Barczak’s end would continue as the match progressed, with the underclassman adding two more takedowns and scoring points for attempted pins. Barczak finished the match at the 4:05 mark, taking the 22-7 technical fall win over Corwin.
Continuing on to the quarterfinals, Barczak was matched up against freshman Cole Burke of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. The Drexel wrestler would go on to better his previous performance, outgrappling Burke in the first period with four takedowns and pinning his opponent in just under four minutes.
Arriving at the semi-final match, Barczak found himself pitted against University of Virginia freshman Justin McCoy, who was one of the most sought after prospects in collegiate wrestling at the Division I level according to top National Collegiate Athletic Association scouts during the 2018 signing period.
The 157-pound semi-final match took a lot out of both competitors, as neither could land any meaningful offense on the other during the first two periods. In the dying moments of the bout, Barczak managed to get up from the bottom position before landing his first and only takedown of the match to edge the 4-0 decision win.
Although Barczak had been lucky to have avoided any trouble prior to entering the final of the 157-pound bracket, Campbell University junior Benjamin Barton brought his A-game for the bout, providing a thrilling back and forth scrap that proved to be one of the highlights of the competition.
Both wrestlers exchanged takedowns and escapes from the ground position to keep the score level at 3-3 at the end of the first period. Barczak began to show signs of the same dominance against Barton as he had against the rest of his opponents in the second period. The Drexel grappler escaped from the bottom at the beginning of the period before receiving a stall point to go up 5-3 at the end of the second.
Barton managed to go up one after an escape of his own to keep himself within reach of victory, but Barczak managed to nullify the threat with one last takedown late in the third period to go up 7-5 and win the 157-pound title.
Meanwhile, in the 184-pound division, freshman Anthony Walters also began a deep run in his championship bracket in a quarterfinal match against Virginia redshirt sophomore Jack Walsh. Walters finished the match up in a rush, pinning Walsh in less than a minute to move on in the competition.
Walters would solidify his winning streak following his victory in the semi-finals over Ohio University freshman Blake Wilson. Walters kept Wilson guessing in the opening period, scoring two takedowns to go up 4-2. Over the next two periods Walters would quickly ground his opponent and control him on the ground to earn a 10-4 decision and entrance into the final.
In spite of a solid run in the 184-pound tournament, Walters could not repeat the feat of his fellow lowerclassman and come through with a win in the final, which saw him go on the mat against freshman Trent Hidlay of North Carolina State University, another one of the top, if not the top, sought after recruits of 2018.
Hidlay earned four takedowns during the first two periods, and ramped up the offense during the final period, earning four more takedowns in the span of two minutes, taking a 18-6 majority decision.
Both Walters and Barczak performed admirably in their respective weight classes, with each making it to the finals of their individual brackets. They will rejoin the rest of the Drexel wrestling squad when the group travels to Annapolis, Maryland, Feb. 1 to face the United States Naval Academy in a high profile Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association league contest. The two Dragons will be looking to add to the momentum of the Drexel squad in the wake of their own impressive performances.