New-look wrestling team excited for upcoming year | The Triangle

New-look wrestling team excited for upcoming year

Credit: Ken Chaney | Senior Joseph Booth, wrestler in the 165 weight class, will look to build upon a 2011-12 season in which he had 24 wins and a first place finish in the Body Bar Invitational.

The Drexel wrestling team heads into a new season with the addition of a new assistant coach in Tyler Nauman. Nauman recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a four-year letter winner, a two-time All-American and a winner of over 100 matches. He was the team captain his junior and senior years. Nauman comes to the program after earning a degree in communications at Pitt and enrolling in a master’s degree program in education at Drexel.

“I am happy to announce that Tyler Nauman has joined our staff,” head coach Matt Azevedo said. “He brings a wealth of knowledge to our program and should help elevate our recruiting in the state of Pennsylvania.”

Along with a new assistant coach, the Dragons are looking to benefit from a crop of new freshman talent. Of the 10 wrestlers to make up the Colonial Athletic Association Preseason All-Freshman team, five were Dragons. Matt Cimato, Jason Fugiel, Steven Elicegui, Conor Moran, and Gage Harrah received the honor. These players could play a major role this year in the team’s success.

“We have a very talented freshman class that will see a lot of varsity action this year,” Azevedo said. “Our room is much more competitive this season. Everyone has had to step up their game. We are a much-improved team with the added depth. Should make for an exciting season.”

Drexel will begin the season as the sixth-ranked wrestling team in the CAA. The schedule boasts 17 tough matches, not including the CAA and NCAA tournaments.

“Everyone is very excited about the schedule this year,” Azevedo said. “Especially having Iowa State and North Carolina at home on Jan. 13.”

The Dragons will be faced with a full slate of CAA opponents to compete against, including Hofstra University at the DAC Dec. 2 and Rider University in New Jersey on a date that is to be announced. The team will also play host to powerhouses Iowa State University and the University of North Carolina Wilmington Jan. 13 in back-to-back matches.

Drexel will take part in two open tournaments this season. The team will head to Fresno, Calif., for the Road Runner Open Nov. 10 and then to East Stroudsburg, Pa., for the East Stroudsburg Open Nov. 17.

As an improving force in collegiate wrestling, Drexel has been picked as one of 14 institutions that will compete in the first-ever collegiate wrestling dual meet being hosted Dec. 16 at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City. The 2012 “Grapple of the Garden” will also feature Bloomsburg University, Bucknell University, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Cornell University, George Mason University, Hofstra University, The University of Iowa, the University of Maryland, the University of Missouri, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The Ohio State University, Oklahoma State University and Rutgers University. The Dragons will face George Mason in a 10:30 a.m. match.

“Getting picked to be one of the first collegiate wrestling programs to compete in Madison Square Garden is such an honor,” Azevedo said. “Our fans are very excited as well. We have sold over 200 tickets already.”

The Dragons will also participate in the Northeast Duals in Albany, N.Y., Nov. 24 and the BRUTE invitational in Lock Haven, Pa., Dec. 29.

The rest of the Dragons’ schedule is composed of home matches against Virginia Military Institute Dec. 1, Sacred Heart University Jan. 26, Boston University Feb.1 and Rutgers Feb. 15, in addition to road matches at the United States Military Academy, the University of Northern Colorado, Old Dominion University, Binghamton University, Franklin & Marshall College, and the University of Pennsylvania. The Dragons will finish the season with the CAA Tournament in Boston and the NCAA Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Both events are on dates that have yet to be announced.