By Maximillian C. Burgos | Staff Writer
The College of New Jersey’s wrestling lost 26-16 in their home opener against Stevens Institute of Technology. Stevens was in firm control of the match most of the night. The College didn’t find their way onto the scoreboard until their 184-pound bout.
This loss marks the second year in a row that the College lost to Stevens in their home opener. Head coach Joe Galante talked about the loss after the match.
“We need to get a little better,” Galante said. “We can take away some positives from those last three bouts and I saw some greatness in some spots. At 125, we looked a little better than we did last week. At 149, we looked a little better than last week, the guy wrestled tough. At 165, we were right in that battle. The other guy was ranked in the country, but I think we can win that battle with a couple little changes. At 184, 197 and heavyweight, we are happy, but we are not done working yet.”
The Lions lost their first seven bouts of the night letting Stevens run out to a 25 – 0 lead. The closest match up until this point was the 165-pound bout. The Lions 165-pounder Luke Balina went into battle with Thomas Poklikuha who was ranked No. 8 in the country according to NCAA Division III rankings.
The match felt like a back and forth tug-of-war between the two wrestlers. They fought aggressively, working towards a takedown. Balina gave up too early in the match after a slick takedown Poklikuha. Balina battled back in the third, but just couldn’t hang on for the win, losing 9-7 in his bout.
The Lions fans were given something to cheer about during the 184-pound bout. Lions 184-pounder Daniel Kilroy came out and wrestled hard right from the first whistle. Kilroy got his first takedown early from a scramble that he came out on top of.
Kilroy grinded his opponent most of the first period, earning 2:26 of riding time. He tilted his opponent with finesse but did not get any back points in the first period. In the second period, he build on his lead, tiring out his opponent even further.
In the third period, he ended the match early, pinning his opponent with a vicious intent. His opponent tried to run out of a double leg takedown, but Kilroy managed to catch him by the waste, taking his opponent down hard.
Kilroy managed to land on his opponent’s chest, scoring back points immediately. After a short yet strong-willed strong from his opponent, Kilroy earned the pin, getting the College it’s first six team points.
Galante talked about Kilroy’s performance.
“Kilroy’s a pinner,” Galante said. “He is a winner. Every time he goes out there he expects great things. We expect great things. I talked about the win in the locker room with him after the match. He’s not super happy with his performance, he wants to do better. In the second period, he didn’t score a lot of points. He didn’t stay as on it as he probably could have. It was like a second-period slump, a little bit. But it defiantly is a good place to build from. Starting your first home duel off with a fall, I like that.”
Not to be outshined or outperformed, Alex Mirabella, the College’s 197-pounder came out like a bat out of hell and pinned his opponent before some people could understand what had just happened.
Mirabella got a quick takedown. He walked from the top position into a nasty near-side cradle that flattened his opponent’s back, getting the pin for his team. The Lions cut into their deficient with another six points.
Heavyweight Kyle Cocozza also had a solid match, winning by major decision. He picked his shots well throughout the match. He also showed his athleticism, going to the ground for better angles on his shots.
By the third period, he had exhausted his opponent, costing to a 10-2 win, getting another four points for his team. Galante talked about his 197 and heavyweight performances.
“Both those guys are training early in the morning,” Galante said. “They train with me. They are doing one-on-one sessions with me early in the morning and I love that. They are showing sacrifice. They are sacrificing their time. They are sacrificing going to bed early the night before and I think that showed through on the mat tonight.”
Even with the surge at the end of the match, the Lions could not pull off the win. The Lions struggled, but the wrestling season is long and there is still time to get better.
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