Though the Drexel University men’s wrestling has historically opened their preseason at the nation’s premier wrestling tournaments, this year they have decided to remain local in their search for healthy competition. Lansdale, one of Philadelphia’s storied suburbs, is home to North Penn High School, whose athletics program churns out some of the top prospects in collegiate sports. North Penn allowed its facilities to serve as the site of the Drexel Dragons’ most recent match.
The duals meet serves as a showcase for local high school talent and for Drexel’s own crop of seasoned grapplers. The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Cougars were selected for the opening matches against Drexel Nov. 9. After an uneasy defeat of SIUE, Drexel went to have a much more competent showing against West Liberty University. Three Drexel wrestlers managed to go undefeated in their back to back matches.
The 125-pound weight class commenced they day’s matches, with sophomore Antonio Mininno scoring five consecutive points in the final period to break the 6-6 deadlock. Mininno’s success in his 11-6 drubbing of Gage Datlovsky carried over to Chandler Olson’s 16-0 technical fall
against Honor Nguyen.
Olson was one of the Dragons that would end the day undefeated, and his emphatic win gave Drexel a comfortable 8-0 lead. Olson’s tech fall was the first of his career under the Drexel banner. The first loss for Drexel came in sudden overtime at the 141 pound weight class. Saul Ervin took Drexel freshman Tyler Williams to the extra period, where the rookie lost his first official collegiate match 10-8 despite great effort.
SIUE pushed to their first lead of the meet with consecutive victories at 149 and 157 pounds. Redshirt juniors Vincent Foggia and Felix Belga fell 8-3 at 149 and 6-1 at 157 respectively. Belga lost to elite competition in 2019 NCAA qualifier Justin Ruffin. Igniting Drexel with some much needed energy was redshirt senior Ebed Jarrell, the no. 17 ranked performer nationally at 165 pounds according to WrestleStat.
Jarrell also went into extra time, but was the first to complete a takedown in sudden death, giving him the nod. Redshirt freshman Michael O’Malley and redshirt sophomore Bryan McLaughlin earned wins to restore Drexel’s lead and finalize the outcome. McLaughlin’s bonus points gave Drexel the 18-15 win in the contest overall, despite splitting matches 5-5.
Despite the quick turnaround, Drexel looked revitalized against West Liberty, coming away with a 32-9 victory with wins in seven of ten matches.
The WLU team holds the no. 12 ranking amongst all Division II teams according to the National Wrestling Coaches Association. Three of their wrestlers are within the top 10 of their weight class rankings.
Dante Mininno, twin brother of Antonio, was unable to give Drexel the advantage at 125 pounds, taking a 6-0 loss to Cole Laya. Drexel wasted little time in recovering, racking up the next seven matches to end any hopes West Liberty might have had at overcoming the Dragons. Chandler Olson took a 8-0 win over Nate Keaton, while Tyler Williams redeemed himself with a 8-5 decision. Vincent Foggia managed to even out his record by besting Jack Barber 7-3. Completing the trilogy of successful comebacks was Felix Belga’s pin of Blake Miller.
Ebed Jarrell and Michael O’Malley secured technical falls to gain Drexel five points each, with O’Malley’s win mathematically eliminating West Liberty from mounting an offensive that could beat the Dragons.
Senior Owen Brooks putgave a competent performance to ensure his 7-6 win against Isaiah Myers. Bryan McLaughlin dropped his second match of the day, pinned by Logan Kemp five minutes in. Following Joey Goodhart’s departure from the Drexel squad last year, redshirt sophomore Sean O’Malley took over in the role of the team’s primary heavyweight, claiming the last match of the day for Drexel with a 3-1 win in the extended time.
The Daskalakis Athletic Center will host Drexel’s matchup against Oklahoma State University, who holds the no. 4 national team ranking of Division I schools. The contest will be held Nov. 15, and will serve as the biggest challenge of Drexel’s preseason.