The Drexel University wrestling team finished up an exciting weekend Feb. 15. The Dragons faced a fierce Cornell University squad, loaded with highly ranked opponents to test each Drexel wrestler. Prior to this meet, however, the Dragons faced Hofstra University at the Daskalakis Athletic Center Feb. 13. The crowd roared during the matches, as spirit day festivities seemed to energize an already energetic crowd. Both Cornell University and Hofstra University are in Drexel’s conference so both contests were of great importance.
Spirit day festivities definitely gave the crowd an extra voice because the DAC’s energy could be felt from the freshman dorms. The wrestlers definitely seemed to feed off of the energy as Drexel earned nice victory over their conference foe.
The meet began with the 285-pound weight class facing off against each other. Joey Goodhart put forth a tough outing, but fell to his opponent by way of a 7-3 decision. Zack Fuentes was next in the 125-pound weight class and gave the Dragons their first points. Fuentes was able to escape from his opponent to gain a two-point advantage and ultimately win the meet by a 2-0 decision.
After Fuentes’ great performance to give the Dragons their first points, Kevin Devoy Jr. was next, in the 133-pound division. Devoy was able to get an excited crowd even more excited by pinning his opponent at the 1:26 mark. On a night like spirit night, there is nothing more exciting for a crowd than to watch one of their own pin an opponent.
The 141-pound division would be the easiest win of the night for the Dragons, as David Pearce’s opponent was forced to forfeit the match. The team score swelled to 15-3 in favor of the Dragons. Matthew Cimato wrestled next in the 149-pound division, and after a tough match, he dropped a 7-2 decision to an opponent who is ranked No. 16 in the country. Cimato wrestled with heart, but his opponent was able to get the best of him.
In the 157-pound division, Noel Blanco gave the crowd yet another reason to explode in excitement. Blanco was able to record a technical fall against his opponent, winning the match 18-2. This victory put the Dragons ahead by a commanding 20-6. Nick Elmer looked to expand that lead by winning his match in the 165-pound division. The match was hard-fought, but Elmer came away with a slim 5-4 decision.
Stephen Loiseau at 174 pounds and Jason Fugiel at 184 pounds both lost their matches, 2-0 and by fall respectively. This shortened the gap in the overall team score; however, a victory in the 197-pound division by Brandon Litten ultimately sealed the deal. The Dragons won this meet 26-15 in an impressive team victory. There’s no doubt the spirit day crowd had a little something to do with the energy and toughness put forth by each Drexel wrestler.
The Dragons next match, against Cornell, did not go quite as well as the Hofstra match. The Dragons faced an extremely tough opponent in Cornell, as eight of the 10 wrestlers for Cornell were ranked.
The meet began in the 125-pound division as Fuentes put forth a great, hard-fought effort but he lost by fall to his No. 3 ranked opponent, Nahshon Garret. Devoy, who is ranked No. 16, faced one of his toughest opponents so far this season. Devoy went up against No. 15-ranked Mark Grey and won the match by a slim 3-2 decision.
David Pearce wrestled next in the 141-pound division, beating his opponent in a 3-0 decision. Unfortunately for Drexel this was the final match of the afternoon that would end in a victory. The Dragons definitely had their work cut out for them because, of the next seven matches, six were against ranked opponents with rankings all above No. 20. The overall team score ended at 35-6 in favor of Cornell.
While this is a meet the Dragons would like to certainly forget the score of, it is one they will use as motivation. Coach Matt Azevedo explained this saying, “I think it motivates them, and I think they see what the gap is, and they say alright we’ve got work to do.” Azevedo also explained that, Cornell is a team that is consistently on top of the conference standings, and the Dragons look at this as motivation. They see what Cornell does to get to their position, and it pushes them to want to do the same.
This type of mindset is great for a team like Drexel. The Dragons have many wrestlers on the team that are still young, and the more these young wrestlers look towards teams, such as Cornell, the more they will progress.
The Dragons took on Rutgers University Feb. 19 at home for their senior day. Unfortunately, the Dragons fell in a big way, 28-9.
Luckily, Rutgers isn’t a conference opponent for the Dragons, and besides the obvious disappointment of losing on senior day, the loss doesn’t hurt them too much. Going forward, the Dragons have one more conference matchup before conference championships, against University of Pennsylvania Feb. 21.
The Dragons will also host the University of Nebraska Saturday, Feb. 21. Seeing as the season is coming to an end, the Dragons will be looking to put forth their best efforts in order to win these important meets and get ready for upcoming championship meets.