PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The bar was reset at the end of the 2018-2019 season when head coach Lonnie Morris and company earned the best finish in program history with a 3rd place trophy at the NCAA Division III National Championships. As associate head coach always says, "we don't rebuild, we reload". There is no question that the talent lost to close out last season is steep as the most decorated athlete in Wildcat history, two-time national champion Jay Albis, walked the stage in May but the Wildcats plan on picking up right where they left, despite the doubts around New England and the country.
JWU returns three national qualifiers including the top-ranked wrestling in New England at 149 pounds, Da'mani Burns. The Gorriaran Award winner at the NCAA tournament for most pins in the quickest time looks to add to what he built last season with the Wildcats and return to the national championships. Burns opens the season ranked third in the country courtesy of the intermatwrestle.com while senior Michael DiNardo is ranked seventh in the 285 pound weight class and sophomore Tommy Wrzesien opens at tenth at 197 pounds. Wrzesien and DiNardo finish the '18-'19 season in opposing weight classes compared to where they are currently nationally ranked.
Within the New England ranks, JWU placed seven wrestlers within the top ten of the first ranking with DiNardo in the three spot at 285 and Wrzesien at two in the 197 class. Senior Brady Robin, junior Chris Caban and sophomore Gabe McDaniel each earned top five spots in their respective classes. The 157-pounder Robin begins the season fourth while Caban joins him with a fourth place ranking at 125 pounds. McDaniel is currently fifth at 141 pounds.
The Ithaca Invitational begins today, November 1, at 3 p.m. The link to follow along is below.