A season filled with highs and lows for the Drexel University men’s wrestling team was salvaged during the 2019 Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association Championships. The Dragons traveled to Binghamton University March 8 for the 115th edition of the tournament.
Drexel fielded 10 of their season’s top performers on the first day of the competition, which proved to be driven by intense competition. The EIWA presented Drexel with several of the most elite wrestling programs in the nation, namely Lehigh University, Cornell University, Princeton University, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy.
Almost immediately as Drexel began competing, a bright ray of hope began to shine on the Dragons. This hope, as hope so often does, came from an unlikely source, this time in the form of freshman Antonio Mininno. The underclassman had endured a difficult maiden season of collegiate wrestling up to that point, but came in determined to prove his mettle to the crowds.
Mininno carried no individual ranking heading into the championships, making his performances in bouts against the top-10 ranked wrestlers of the competition that much more impressive. Mininno began his run at 125 pounds against the No. 6 ranked performer in the category, Hofstra University freshman Dylan Ryder.
The Mininno-Ryder bout took a triple overtime to produce a winner, with the Drexel grappler overcoming serious exhaustion to edge out the 2-1 decision in the narrowest of margins. The effects of the match showed in Mininno’s second match, against University of Pennsylvania freshman Carmen Ferrante, to whom he dropped a 6-2 decision. Luckily, Mininno recovered enough to advance to the second day of competition after an 8-4 decision over Lehigh freshman Luke Resnick.
In spite of Mininno’s accomplishments, not all of Drexel’s wrestlers at the lighter weight classes shared the same success. Redshirt freshman Alex Salas was slated to compete at 133 pounds, his first match up being against No. 5 ranked Army sophomore Lane Peters. Unfortunately for Salas, he was pinned in less than a minute, tumbling into the consolation rounds. Soon after, he had a chance at redemption against Brown University sophomore Hunter Kosco, but was again unable to survive all three periods, taking another loss due to a fall to complete his run on the first day of the tournament.
Junior Nick Widmann competed at 141 pounds, one category down from his natural weight class. The weight cut had a clear effect on Widmann, who suffered back to back losses to exit the tournament early. The upperclassman first took on Binghamton University junior Anthony Sparacio, to whom he lost out a 16-7 majority decision. Widmann followed up his performance by facing Bucknell University freshman Noah Levett in the consolation bracket. Widmann was handed a 21-5 technical loss midway through the final period. Widmann’s usual spot at 149 pounds was filled by No. 6 ranked redshirt sophomore Parker Kropman. Kropman was able to pick up a win against Binghamton freshman Frank Garcia before two losses in a row cut his run short.
Drexel’s middleweight outings were highlighted by No. 1 ranked junior Ebed Jarrell — at 165 pounds — advancing to the second day of competition without defeat. Jarell was granted a bye in the first round of competition before having to face Cornell freshman Andrew Berreyesa. Jarrell made short work of his opponent, ensuring the shutout in a 10-0 majority decision win.
The remainder of the middleweights couldn’t find a way to continue on into the second days of events. Sophomore Evan Barczak, despite his No. 9 ranking at 157 pounds, had nothing for his opponents — American University redshirt sophomore Kizhan Clarke and Navy sophomore Quentin Hovis — who respectively eliminated Barczak from the main and consolation rounds.
Redshirt freshman Bryan McLaughlin earned his sole win of his campaign at 174 pounds in a 10-9 decision against Bucknell sophomore Frankie Guida, before leaving the tournament due to losses to two other top-10 seeded wrestlers.
The 184-pound division featured a run from freshman Anthony Walters, who fell in his opening contest against No. 4 ranked Brown senior Christian Lafragola, who handed the Drexel wrestler a 7-2 decision loss. The defeat resulted in Walters dropping into the consolation bracket, where he was able to get into the win column with a forfeit over Franklin & Marshall College junior Reid Robilotto. Walters was fully eliminated after another loss, this time to No. 6 ranked American redshirt sophomore Tanner Harvey.
Drexel’s heavyweights had a great day on the mats, with redshirt seniors Stephen Loiseau and Joey Goodhart both doing well enough to move onto the second day of competition. Loiseau went undefeated in three matches, while Goodhart progressed thanks to his string of wins in the secondary brackets.
Loiseau performed well with his No. 4 ranking at 197 pounds by going 2-0 on the mat the first day, first getting the technical fall win over Sacred Heart University freshman Connor Fredricks, before making the quick turnaround to end Navy junior Joshua Roetman’s championship hopes with a 4-2 decision victory. Roetman was ranked one spot below Loiseau at No. 5.
Goodhart, who came into the EIWA’s with a No.2 ranking and a strong chance of running away with the heavyweight bracket, suffered a shock loss in his second match of the day. Shortly after dismantling Penn freshman Ben Goldin in 4-0 shutout, Goodhart saw his hope of gold vanish after a close 3-2 loss to No. 7 ranked Franklin & Marshall senior Antonio Pelusi. Fortunately for Goodhart, he earned a chance to move to the consolation quarterfinals with a 9-0 majority decision over No. 8 ranked Hofstra redshirt junior Omar Haddad.
While Drexel lost over half of their competing athletes on the first day, the Dragons entered the latter portion of the competition ready to exceed what was expected of them. This mentality proved to be a winning one, as three of the remaining four wrestlers for Drexel qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association championships.
Mininno showed a veteran’s craftiness in his two remaining matches, showing great defensive capability from the bottom by executing several escapes from underneath his opponents. The freshman went 0-2, dropping two decisions (each determined by a single point) en route to a spot on the podium with an eighth place finish.
Loiseau and Goodhart were the joint top finishers for Drexel, with each senior reaching third place in their divisions. Loiseau won two in the consolation bracket after getting knocked out of the championships by Princeton sophomore Patrick Brucki. Goodhart went 3-0 on the second day, winning a rematch against Franklin & Marshall’s Pelusi to stand at third on the podium.
Ebed Jarrell went 1-2 in his matches to finish fourth overall at 165 pounds. He joined Goodhart and Loiseau as one of the three Drexel wrestlers going on to compete at the NCAAs. Goodhart’s 5-1 record, as well as his joint top placing for Drexel earned him the Drexel School of Education Athlete of the Week commendation. Drexel finished ninth overall out of 16 competing teams at the EIWA championships, one of their best ever finishes since joining the conference.
Recently, Kropman received an at-large selection to compete at the NCAA championships. He will be joining Goodhart, Loiseau and Jarrell who will make the trip to Pittsburgh for the biggest stage for collegiate wrestling. The NCAAs will last from March 21-23.