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Drexel opens season with wins in 13 of 18 matches against Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart’s JC Broems, left,  puts pressure on Drexel’s Nathan Lapinski (165) in Friday’s EIWA meet in Fairfield. Lapinski beat Broems with a takedown in overtime. (Steve McLaughlin photo courtesy Sacred Heart Athletics)

The Drexel University wrestling team came to Fairfield to open their 2021 season with five wrestlers individually ranked among the top 30 in their respective weight classes, including three athletes that earned spots in last year’s NCAA Division I national championship tournament.

That experience helped the visiting Dragons win 13 of 18 matches in an Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) round-robin event with Sacred Heart on Friday night at the Pitt Center. No team scores were kept.

“It was a celebration of wrestling,” Sacred Heart coach John Clark said. “We wrestled for 2½ hours, we wrestled 18 matches and we had a lot of fun. Drexel is a very good team. We won five out of 18 matches and that is pretty good.”

While it was the fourth match of the season for Sacred Heart, it was the first competition of the year for the Drexel, who will wrestle another three matches on Saturday against Hofstra, Bloomsburg and Long Island University.

“Tonight, they did all right,” Clark said of his Pioneers. “Obviously Drexel is a better team but I think we wrestled pretty well.”

At 184 pounds, Sacred Heart junior Joe Accousti, the redshirt junior from Newtown, got a takedown 10 seconds into overtime to beat Drexel’s Josh Stillings, a 2018 Pennsylvania state champion and a Super 32 finalist in high school.

Stillings took a 2-1 lead with a late takedown at the end of the second period but Accousti rode out Stillings in the third period to earn one point for riding time and a chance to win in OT. Accousti is now 3-1 on the year and 3-0 in EIWA.

Sacred Heart redshirt freshman Scott Jarosz (165) had his most dominant performance of the season with a 19-0 technical fall over Drexel’s Luke Scanlan to improve to 2-2 on the season.

Sacred Heart’s Dante Delbonis, who worked hard in the offseason to get ready to compete at 197 pounds, gave up nearly 80 pounds facing Drexel’s Derek Rose at 285 pounds.  Delbonis (2-0) earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory thanks to riding time and an escape with 15 seconds left in the match.

The Pioneers’ Jordan Carlucci (141) was was in trouble in his match with Drexel’s Tyler Williams. Carlucci was on his back in a cradle but he rolled through it and pinned Williams in 2:39 to improve to 2-2 with his second consecutive win of the season.

The final Pioneer victory came from Nick Palumbo, the redshirt junior from Andover, N.J., who dominated Drexel’s Felix Belga (157) for a 14-1 victory. Palumbo is 3-1 on the year.

Last year, Drexel’s Brian McLaughlin (197), Mickey O’Malley (174) and Antonio Mininno (125) each qualified for the NCAA Division I tournament for the Dragons. On Friday night, each earned a win against the Pioneers. McLaughlin and O’Malley each won with pins. A strong second period lifted Mininno to a victory.

Mininno broke open a scoreless bout Sacred Heart rookie Cole Meyer with a takedown with three seconds left in the first period. Then, Mininno got a quick reversal to begin the second period and back-to-back four-point near falls to extend his lead to 10-0. Mininno eventually won by technical fall, 16-1.

O’Malley was ranked No. 12 in the latest FloWrestling rankings while McLaughlin was No. 18. Parker Kropman (157) and Evan Barczak (165) were each ranked No. 23 by FloWrestling while Mininno was ranked No. 29 by Open Mat.

Seven Sacred Heart seniors were recognized prior to the match with each receiving a framed Sacred Heart singlet – JC Broems, TJ Calas, Hunted Adans, Newtown’s Anthony Falbo, Nick Fierro, Pat O’Donnell and Will Schmidt.

Sacred Heart returns to action on Tuesday when they host Hofstra in another round-robin event with wrestling beginning at 5 p.m. You can see the action live on NECFrontRow.com.

It will be the final dual meet of the season for the Pioneers who will begin preparations for the 2021 EIWA championship meet on Friday, February 26 in Lancaster, Pa., with berths to the NCAA Division I tournament on the line.

Drexel vs. Sacred Heart
At Fairfield
165: Scott Jarosz (SH) tech fall Luke Scanlan, 19-0, 6:58
165: Evan Barczak (D) tech fall Will Schmidt, 19-7, 7:00
174: Michael O’Malley (D) pin Grant Horn, 1:10
174: Nathan Lapinski (D) def. JC Broems, 4-2, OT
184: Joe Accousti (SH) def. Josh Stillings, 4-2, OT
197: Bryan McLaughlin (D) pin  Nick Fierro, 6:17
285: Dante DelBonis (SH) dec. Derek Rose, 2-0
125: Antonio Mininno (D) tech fall Cole Meyer, 17-1, 5:28
133: Chandler Olson (D) major dec. Kyle Randall, 10-0
133: Jaxson Maroney (D) pin Thomas Volpe, 3:39
141: Julian Flores (D) pin Vincent Milazzo, 1:44
141: Jordan Carlucci (SH) pin Tyler Williams, 2:39
149: Luke Nichter (D) major dec. Raf Lievano, 16-2
149: Jared Donahue (D) major dec. Chris Naegele, 15-2
149: Gabe Onorato (D) pin Tommy Eboli, 6:57
157: Parker Kropman (D) major dec. Shaun Williams, 16-3
157: Max Livingston (D) pin Jack Molloy, 2:27
157: Nick Palumbo (SH) major dec. Felix Belga, 14-1
Records: Sacred Heart 0-2, Drexel 0-0

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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