By Cristiana Votta
Coming off an 11-24 loss at Old Dominion (10-6), the Broncs look toward improving their record when they return home on Feb. 9 at noon against Sacred Heart and Feb. 10 at 2 p.m. against Drexel (7-9).
“Everyone on the team has been getting a lot of work in with the coaches [since the loss] and it’s made us realize we are making a lot of little technical mistakes that mean a lot and can cost us matches at this level of competition,” said 197-pound sophomore Donald McNeil.
If the Broncs wrestle to their ability, they have potential to come out of the weekend with two wins.
“This weekend I expect our team to win both of our duals,” 149-pound senior captain Zac Cibula said. “Sacred Heart’s team is a little weaker this year, so we should have no problem. Also, if we wrestle well against Drexel, there is no reason the team should not come out on top.”
The Broncs have considered all of their highs and lows in performance throughout the season and have strived toward sticking with what has been working for them.
“A strong point for our team has been the top position and our conditioning,” Cibula said. “With that being said, we need to figure out a way to be better on bottom and to score earlier in the match. If we can score earlier, our guys usually do a good job of holding the lead and finishing the match.”
The team as a whole has showed consistency; however, a few wrestlers have stood out statistically and in the coaches’ eyes.
“Our team has a few individuals who have been doing really well,” Cibula said. “[165-pound junior] Ramon Santiago has been having a great year and is currently Top 20 in the country. Also, McNeil [174-pound junior], James Brundage [133-pound sophomore], Jimmy Morris and I were Top 33 in the last coaches’ poll.”
Heading into the weekend, the Broncs face high expectations and pressure seeing as the CAA Championships are just a few matches away.
“There is always pressure when you take to the mat and every opponent you face in Division I is going to be tough,” McNeil said. “You always have to be ready for a dogfight.”
If the Broncs keep this positive drive, Cibula feels they can make the CAA championships, which take place on March 9 in Boston.
“Conference matches always put extra pressure because you are wrestling opponents that you will most likely go against at CAA championships,” McNeil said. “Drexel is a big meet for the team overall and it’s important for everyone to win their matches to help their seedings for the brackets at the conference tournament.”
With time running short, the Broncs must put in a large effort and extreme concentration in all of their final matches.
“Everyone needs to work on their mindsets,” McNeil said. “We have to stay tough and realize how important each match is for the conference seeding and preparation for the conference and national tournaments. We need to be stingy with our positioning and not give up points.”
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