The most recent road trips for Drexel wrestling ended with mixed results. The team had success Nov. 17 at the East Stroudsburg Open, placing fourth overall in the tournament. The next weekend, however, did not go as well for the Dragons. They lost all three matches to Cornell University, Columbia University and Bloomsburg University in Albany, N.Y., at the Northeast Duals.
The Dragons headed into East Stroudsburg looking to build upon their strong performance in the Roadrunner Open, which took place a week earlier. The team put in another solid effort, with four Dragons placing in the top four. Frank Cimato had the biggest performance of the day, taking first place at 141 pounds. Brandon Palik kept up his strong start to the season, finishing second in the 197 weight class. Kevin Devoy Jr. and Jacob Goodwin also had solid outings at 125 pounds, finishing the day second and fourth, respectively.
Other Dragons also had strong showings. Noel Blanco put in a top-six performance at 157 pounds. Jamie Callender and Jon Max Wright also finished in the top six, wrestling at 285 pounds. Matthew Cimato finished the tournament in the top eight at 149, as did Jason Fugiel and Austin Sommer, who both wrestled in the 157 weight class. Bryan Sternlieb, who competed in the 184 weight class, also placed in the top eight.
As a team, the Dragons finished the open tournament in fourth place. Head coach Matt Azevedo was pleased with his team’s performance at East Stroudsburg.
“I thought our guys wrestled really well,” Azevedo said. “We had a lot of guys go deep into the tournament and won a lot of matches.”
The Dragons did suffer a significant loss in the tournament, as Jamie Callender, one of the team’s top wrestlers, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the semifinals.
Following their trip to East Stroudsburg, the Dragons had a week off before their trip to Albany for the Northeast Duals. The Dragons had a less-than-stellar performance in the duals, finishing the day with no team wins and only five individual wins out of 30 matches.
The Dragons did not fare well in their duals against Ivy powers Cornell and Columbia, falling 40-0 and 26-9, respectively. The following dual against Bloomsburg had similar results, as Drexel was defeated 33-6.
While the day did not go well for the Dragons, the team did have some strong individual performances from Frank Cimato, Brandon Palik and Bryan Sternlieb. Both Cimato and Sternlieb went 2-1 on the day, defeating Columbia and Bloomsburg, while Palik had a victory over Columbia.
Cimato got the Dragons their first points of the afternoon, as he won a 7-2 decision against Columbia in the 141 weight class. Sternlieb competed hard and came out on top in the 184 weight class with a 7-5 victory. At 197, Palik later followed with a 3-1 win.
Against Bloomsburg, Cimato was once again the first on the board for Drexel, winning his bout with a 4-1 decision. The Dragons’ other three points in the match came from Sternlieb, who got his second win of the day with a 9-7 decision.
For the Dragons, the day was disappointing and came with struggles from the start. They got off to a slow start, which hurt their momentum for the rest of the day.
“It was a rough day,” Azevedo said. “We got off to a bad note when we didn’t win a match against Cornell. I think that took the wind out of our sails, and we never really recovered from that.”
The Dragons will have a week off before they host the Virginia Military Institute Keydets Saturday, Dec. 1, at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Heading into the next match, Drexel wrestling will look to get back on the winning track. VMI is coming off a last-place finish at the Keystone Classic and has been plagued by injuries in the early going. However, the Dragons will still need to make some improvements and put in a strong performance in order to come out with a victory.
“Ultimately, we just need to bring a better intensity and a better mental focus,” Azevedo said. “I think that if we come with a better mental focus this weekend, we will have much better results.”