Drexel Wrestling is preparing for the upcoming Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships on Feb. 26. Having placed 12th at the conference last year, the team is looking to improve on their results following a successful start to the season. Antonio Minnino, Bryan McLaughlin, Ebed Jarrell and Mickey O’Malley all qualified for National Championships last season. Heading into the conference, the team boasts five nationally-ranked wrestlers; Luke Nichter, Parker Kropman, Evan Barczak, Michael (Mickey) O’Malley and Bryan McLaughlin. The team is looking to rebound from last week’s loss to nationally-ranked Rider University.
Starting off the tournament for the Dragons will be junior Antonio Minnino (1-3) in the 125-pound category. A national qualifier last season, and coming off the back of a major upset over UPenn, he will be looking to replicate last season’s performance. Known for performing best when it matters most, he will be using his quick and explosive tactics to get the win this weekend and punch his ticket to the National Championships. In the 133-pound category, senior Chandler Olson (4-1) will be competing for the Dragons. Held out of the EIWA Championships due to injury, he is excited to get a chance at next weekend’s conference. His ability to wrestle from the top position and score near-fall points in bunches should prove him to be a tough opponent and a strong contender. He will also be looking to qualify for Nationals.
Moving into the 141-pound category, sophomore Tyler Williams (4-1) will head onto the mat for Drexel. He competed at the qualifiers last year, so he will be looking to solidify his results. At 149 pounds, freshman Luke Nichter (5-0) is one of the Dragon’s most exciting competitors. Heading into the conference undefeated with two tech falls and a major decision, he is looking for another successful weekend. Supporters should keep their eye on one of Drexel’s upcoming talents.
At 157 pounds, fifth-year senior Parker Kropman (4-0) is looking to improve on his fourth-place finish at last year’s championship. A qualifier for 2019’s National Championships, and heading into the conference undefeated, he will be one to watch next weekend. 165-pound Evan Barczak (4-1) is also heading strong into the conference. Known for his aggressive pace, he will be focusing on wearing down and breaking his opponents.
Redshirt sophomore and Dragon of the Week, Mickey O’Malley (5-0), at 174 pounds, is another exciting wrestler. Ranked 11th in the nation and expected to pull out more impressive victories, we can certainly expect a big performance from O’Malley. The Dragons are still deciding who will be entered into the 184-pound category.
Bryan Mclaughlin (4-1), a redshirt junior, will also be at the conference next weekend in the 197-pound category. A returning National qualifier and looking to use his athleticism to his benefit, Mclaughlin will be a front-runner to win the tournament. Finally, redshirt junior Sean O’Malley will be making his season debut in the 285-pound category. We can hope to see him follow his teammates’ strong starts to the season.
Team captains, Kropman and Barczak, spoke to The Triangle about their hopes for the upcoming conference. Kropman spoke highly of his teammates: “This is the most prepared the team has ever looked heading into the postseason. Everyone has been working extremely hard and is one hundred percent dedicated on and off the mat. I am so proud of these guys and all the sacrifices they have made this season. It has been very difficult preparing with all of the chaos from the pandemic and everyone has been extremely selfless. I love these guys and can’t wait to go to battle for them.” Barczak echoed his fellow captain: “We will be bringing Blue Collar Conditioning, no one has gone through what we have. We have had 9 a.m. workouts, daily testing, and we have faced adversity and prepared together. I’m looking forward to representing the Dragons.” The Dragons will be in action again on Feb. 26.