The Drexel wrestling team bounced back Feb. 4 with two impressive wins on the road over Brown University and Boston University. This comes after their home loss against Army two weeks prior. The Dragons clinched their first win over Brown 23-13 and finished off the day with a solid 21-14 win over the Terriers. The highlight of the day was the five wrestlers who secured both matches with a solid victory — Brandon Palik, Kyle Frey, Shane Fenningham, Frank Cimato and Joe Booth.
The match against Army had a bitter ending with two strong Dragons out of the lineup. Booth was injured the day before in training, and Josh Yurasits, the team’s first-string 133-pounder, was also unable to wrestle. With these two Dragons out of the lineup, head coach Matt Azevedo said it was difficult to come up with a new game plan at the last minute.
The team traveled north in the afternoon Feb. 3 to face off against these two teams on the mat the following day. In each match the Dragons achieved six individual victories, including a fundamental pin attained by sophomore Austin Sommer against Brown in the 157-pound weight class. Against Boston, freshman Nick Becattini picked up another victory in the 184-pound weight class to add to the final score.
Azevedo was eager to see drastic improvements from the last battle against Army. While on the bus, and before the team stepped on the mat, he took the Dragons aside and set the message straight.
“I told the guys that we were on a business trip and we needed to go up there and take care of business,” he said.
Traveling on the road definitely takes a toll on any team, with the countless hours on a bus thinking about the competition in a few hours. Yet the team has learned to focus on its own technique rather than the opponent. Keeping the energy high on the road can be difficult, Azevedo said, but the guys came out determined and ready. The Dragons have learned to prepare now for each team, home or away, in the same manner.
“We don’t focus on the opponent,” Azevedo said. “We focus on our performance and let the score take care of itself.”
This past week the Dragons faced off against Colonial Athletic Association competitor Rider University Feb. 7 at home but fell short with a final score of 18-15. It came down to the final battle between junior Yurasits and Rider’s Jimmy Morris wrestling at the 133-pound weight class. Unfortunately, Morris battled through the third period and pinned Yurasits to terminate the match.
Even though the overall match ended in a loss, five of the Dragons ended the day with an individual victory: Austin Sommer, Alex Rinaldi, Palik, Frey and Cimato. With Booth injured, freshman Brendan Sebera stepped in to face off against Rider’s James Brundage in the 165-pound weight class. Although it was a hard-fought effort, Sebera wasn’t able to come out with an individual victory.
The last few matches are coming up for the Dragons, and their last CAA battle is Feb. 11 at the DAC. Compared to the start of the season in fall 2011, the wrestlers’ confidence has surpassed expectations. Azevedo said that their strength on the mat and their overall focus levels have increased.
“As a team we have definitely upped our intensity level in practice and competition,” Azevedo said.
After the home match Feb. 11 against George Mason University, the men will go back on the road to travel for a short journey to Piscataway, N.J. to face off against Rutgers University Feb. 16. Last year the team faced an unfortunate loss against the Scarlet Knights with a final score of 6-39. This year the Dragons are hopeful to clinch a win and generate a sweet ending to the season in order to get ready for the CAA Championships beginning March 3.