Over a thousand spectators filled the Daskalakis Athletic Center Nov. 15 to watch the Drexel University men’s wrestling team conclude their preseason run with a home exhibition match against the Oklahoma State University Cowboys.
Both squads came into the meet having won their opening contests the previous week, while OSU had garnered the distinction of the fourth highest ranked collegiate team in the nation. The Stillwater-based team went undefeated in their dual meet schedule in the 2018-19 season, and Drexel was not projected to muster any significant offense against the rising powerhouse. The Dragons met the expectations of the match’s outcome, winning only two of eight matches. OSU largely ran away with the meet from beginning to end, finishing the day with a 30-6 winning scoreline. Junior Chandler Olson and redshirt sophomore Sean O’Malley were the only winning members on the Drexel side.
Sophomore Dante Mininno took to the floor first for Drexel, headlining the 125 pound bout with Nicholas Piccininni. Piccininni, whose resume includes two time All-American status, worked Mininno for just over two minutes. A technical fall win was called for OSU after Mininno failed to overcome a 16-1 drubbing at the hands of his opponent. Olson came into his 133 pound match-up with thoughts of retribution for his teammate and made good on his intentions. Reece Witcraft was caught off guard by an early Olson takedown in the first, finding himself 3-1 down. Commencing the final period from the down position, Olson combined a quick escape with riding time to earn a 5-1 decision. The win corrected the overall scoring to 5-3, putting Drexel within range of making a successful turnaround.
Despite Olson’s early show of defiance to the looming threat of the OSU roster, Drexel could not follow the lead of their compatriot. The following nine matches came and went without a win for the Dragons, ensuring a Cowboys victory.
Freshman Tyler Williams continues to pick up experience at 141 pounds, going the distance with Dusty Hone. The rookie was shutout 6-0 over the course of the three periods, leaving the mats with a decision loss. A similar outcome came the way of redshirt junior Vincent Foggia, who had to cut weight to move down a weight class to 149 pounds. Foggia’s one sided tussle with Boo Lewallen ended in a 10-2 majority decision loss against the lightweight Dragon. OSU was up 12-3 in the wake of Foggia and Lewallen’s match.
Redshirt junior Parker Kropman, who had been lighting up the DAC all of last year after his winter transfer from Binghamton University, was up next to try and better Drexel’s fortunes.
Kropman was making his long-awaited return to the mats following struggles with an injury, but his celebrations would have to be delayed after the homecoming was spoiled by Wyatt Sheets, who became owner of a 13-3 majority decision over Kropman.
NCAA-qualifying 165 pounder Ebed Jarrell, a redshirt senior, was unable to pull of one of his signature come from behind wins, falling victim to the more consistent pressure of Travis Wittlake. Jarrell took a 5-1 decision loss in a highly technical match-up between two officially ranked grapplers. The match of the night, in terms of excitement, came at 174 pounds, a chaotic scrap between redshirt freshman Michael O’Malley and OSU’s Andrew Shomers. The first period was led by O’Malley 2-0, before Shomers flipped the script and equalized in the second. Overtime ensued, with Shomers persevering in a scramble at the final bell.
Senior Owen Brooks and redshirt sophomore Bryan McLaughlin fell 14-3 and 16-7 at 184 and 197 pounds respectively. McLaughlin faced ranked opposition in Dakota Geer, yet another 2019 All-American, who moved up from his regular weight division at 184 pounds to notch OSU some extra points at McLaughlin’s expense. Drexel fans, exhausted from the Dragons’ continual collapse, were sent home happy when the heavyweight finale featuring redshirt sophomore Sean O’Malley concluded with a ferocious 2-1 beatdown of OSU’s Auston Harris OSU. For his scintillating performance, O’Malley was awarded the Hammer of the Match, deemed the most impressive competitor for Drexel.
The Keystone Classic, which annually pits Drexel against the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and several others, is next on the docket for the Dragons. The tourney will take place at Penn Nov. 24. Drexel came second of ten teams competing at Keystone in 2018.