The team’s season may have officially begun way back in November, but the most crucial matches for the Wrestling team are in February and March, with the SoCon Championships scheduled for March 5.
The Wildcats are in a unique position, given that they remain one of the only Davidson teams to have not made the transition to the A-10. In remaining in the SoCon, and with emphasis being placed on future development and accumulating match experience, the ‘Cats have not necessarily seen the concrete measures of success they would have hoped to see at this point. Currently at 4-12, the team has certainly experienced some growing pains, especially with a freshman-laden squad that features just two seniors, Patrick Devlin ’16 and Nathaniel Powers ’16. Having lost SoCon Champion and NCAA participant Scott Patrick ‘15 amongst others, the squad has been working to fill the void created by the absence of such stand-out performers.
Last week the ‘Cats launched fully into their conference schedule, competing against Virginia Military Insititute and the Citadel. On February 3rd against VMU, the team struggled, and despite close, hard-fought matches by several Davidson wrestlers, the ‘Cats fell, 37-0. Konner Pritchard ’18 yielded a 4-3 decision to VMU wrestler Derek Thurman. Heavyweight Will Cooley ’18 also lost narrowly, forcing the match into overtime before he lost with a 3-2 decision.
Despite the shut-out, the ‘Cats responded resiliently later in the week by earning several individual victories against SoCon powerhouse The Citadel, who on a yearly basis tends to have multiple NCAA Championship individual qualifiers. Citadel’s 2015 squad featured four individual NCAA qualifiers.
Senior Devlin noted, “While we didn’t win, it was good to see our guys compete and challenge a team that has established themselves as a powerhouse in the SoCon.” The fact that the Davidson squad was able to challenge a team synonymous with consistent conference success is a testament to the unlocked potential and future success that is likely to follow if the ‘Cats are able to continue their steady progression of developing young talent and building off previous match experience.
Overall, in last Saturday’s match, on Senior night where Patrick Devlin and Nathaniel Powers were acknowledged for their unwavering commitment to the program over the last four years, four Davidson wrestlers registered wins. Dustin Runzo ’18 earned Davidson’s first victory of the day, breaking a 3-3 tie with a decisive and sudden take-down in the first overtime to secure a 5-3 victory. Freshman Adam Flatt ’19 earned his third victory of the season with a 13-4 decision over Citadel’s Daniel Smith, while Pritchard added an eighth season victory with a 5-1 decision. While Davidson ultimately fell, 28-16, there were plenty of standout performances that are indicative of the team’s potential and growing confidence.
The ‘Cats now look forward to two more conference matches, against Gardner-Webb and Campbell, before competing in Asheville, N.C. for the Conference Championships. The squad hopes to not only earn its first SoCon victory, but also establish itself as a future contender for years to come in the SoCon by putting up a strong performance in the next month.