By Danny Lovi, Staff Writer
"It was the only way it could have been, it was the only way it could have ended."
In his first year at the helm, Hofstra wrestling head coach Rob Anspach expected nothing less than a conference title. That is exactly what he got.
The Pride took home its second-straight CAA championship this past Saturday, defeating the hosts Binghamton University by a slight margin, 80.5–78.5. It is the 10th title in 11 years for Hofstra.
Hofstra boasted four individual champions, seniors P.J. Gillespie (165 lbs.) and Ben Clymer, junior Steve Bonanno (125 lbs.) and sophomore Luke Vaith (141 lbs.).
These four are headed to the NCAA Championships in St. Louis, March 15-17, along with second place finishers Jamie Franco (125 lbs.) and Justin Accordino (157 lbs.).
Sending six wrestlers to the NCAAs is nothing new for Hofstra, something the team prides itself on.
"You come here, you're going to the national tournament," said Anspach. "You're not going to be the only guy from Hofstra. You're going to be with your teammates."
A huge turning point in the tournament came when Clymer, wrestling at 184 lbs., defeated Nate Schiedel of Binghamton. The win resulted in Clymer's second individual conference title and propelled Hofstra to victory. It was especially sweet to win in Binghamton's house, the only team to beat Hofstra at home this year.
"A lot of times in wrestling, you don't get to do the whole revenge thing," said Anspach. "You only wrestle each other once, so it was nice to do it in front of their fans. And the way we did it was by putting six guys in the finals. We had the most individual champions."
Gillespie, like Clymer, also took home his second conference title. The seniors and leaders of this team will be missed, but Hofstra's wrestling lineage runs deep.
"They've done a great job as leaders this year, really setting an example for the younger guys," said Anspach. "You can't replace them, but I feel confident we will have strong leadership from the new guys."
After the national tournament concludes, the team will have a week off before it's back to the mat.