COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – The Ursinus College wrestling team will get its postseason journey underway on Saturday as the Bears travel to Merchant Marine to compete in the 26th annual edition of the Centennial Conference championship.
The conference's flagship program with 11 all-time titles, the Bears are one of many squads chasing four-time defending champion Stevens, which can join Ursinus as the only schools to establish a five-year reign at the league championship. The Bears instead are gunning for a major improvement upon last year's 6th-place showing, the first time the team finished outside the top two since 2011.
Eight individual champions return to the fold in 2019 as Ursinus' group of ten looks to knock them from their perch. Below is a preview of Saturday's championship by weight class:
The Bears' best chance at a gold medal is in the lightest weight class, where freshman Collin Wickramaratna has taken the conference by storm. The rookie completed his debut regular season with a sparkling record of 22-5, which includes seven major decisions and four pins. A perfect 4-0 in conference bouts, Wickramaratna should be considered an odds-on favorite to reach the title match; there, he could see Washington and Lee's Ethan Hartman, who was also unbeaten (5-0) in CC bouts.
Junior Brandon Miller gets the nod at 133, where defending 125-pound champion Joey Borai of Stevens lurks. Miller was 4-9 overall during the regular season. A stacked field here will also include ninth-ranked Ricky Cavallo of Johns Hopkins and McDaniel's Ryker Eckenberger, who comes in with a record of 25-4.
Freshman Kyle Seibert joins Wickramaratna in getting his first taste of championship wrestling following a campaign in which he produced a record of 8-14. Stevens' Troy Stanich is the nation's top-ranked grappler and won CC gold at 133 each of the last three seasons, while W&L's Zach Bylykbashi was the runner-up in this competition a year ago.
Senior Patrick Rowe makes his championship debut for the Bears at 149, where the field must deal with Stevens' Brett Kaliner. The 2018 rookie of the year and reigning 141-pound champion moved up a class this season and comes in at 31-5 overall. Rowe was 4-7 overall this season but finished strong with a pair of CC victories, including one over Gettysburg's Colin Devlin (20-5), last Saturday. W&L's Bryce Crew boasts a record of 23-9 heading into the tournament.
Senior Jarret DiGiantomasso returns to the field at 157, where he won a consolation bout at last year's meet. The veteran turned in a strong regular season with a mark of 11-5 and posted a pair of dominating wins against Gettysburg's Ray Martin and McDaniel's Wade Bishop last weekend. Stevens' Dylan Van Sickell won the title at 149 last winter and was undefeated in CC duals, a feat matched by Dominick Reyes of Johns Hopkins. Merchant Marine's Kieran Duggan and Muhlenberg's Brian Jamison figure to join DiGiantomasso in the medal race.
Senior Zachary Goranson drew the eventual champion in the first round in this class a year ago and will hope for better drawing luck this time around. Goranson enjoyed a strong regular season, going 15-8 overall and 2-1 in CC duals with four total pins. He'll have to contend with Merchant Marine's Billy Sims, who was perfect in conference competition, W&L's Shane Conners, and Muhlenberg's Dylan Schwartz in what could be one of the more wide-open weight classes of the weekend.
Freshman Gary Nagle is the third Ursinus freshman to get the call on championship Saturday following a solid debut in which he went 14-10 with five pins. Nagle was 1-3 in conference matches, including a 5-0 victory over McDaniel's Garrett Vanderwalk and a 7-6 setback to Stevens' Robbie Gennat. Gettysburg's Colin Kowalski, ranked 10th in the nation, is the overwhelming favorite here; he defeated Nagle 10-0 last Saturday.
Senior Anthony Cutrufello was 0-2 at 174 at last year's conference meet but has been one of the Bears' breakout stars in the 2018-19 season, going 17-9 overall and racking up a team-leading 10 pins. Cutrufello's only conference loss was a 10-6 decision to Gettysburg's Dan Ebert. A pair of defending CC champions in Merchant Marine's Josh Glantzman (174) and Johns Hopkins' Isaac Morales (184) enter as the favorites, with Ebert, Stevens' Michael Dooley, and 2018 runner-up Rexx Hallyburton of W&L joining Cutrufello in a deep stable of challengers.
Sophomore Ben Maack makes the move up to 197 after a sensational rookie season in which he finished 21-8 and placed fourth at the CC championship at 184. Maack registered a record of 6-8 this season, with his only match at 184 a 7-2 loss to defending champion Gennaro Cerminara of Muhlenberg. Cerminara is the clear favorite in this class, but Maack is certainly one of the most dangerous contenders.
Senior William McGinley braces for his final conference tournament after finishing third at last year's championship. McGinley was impressive again this season, finishing the regular season at 19-13. To challenge for the crown, he'll have to go through seventh-ranked Blake Bunce of Merchant Marine and eighth-ranked Paul Triandafilou of Gettysburg, the two-time defending champion. McGinley certainly would love another crack at Muhlenberg's Scott Schaeffer, who has defeated him narrowly in two matchups since last season.