2012-13 Conference Preview: Will Hofstra continue to be the Pride of Colonial Athletic Association?

Updated: October 4, 2012

This is part of WIN’s on-going preseason look at all ten NCAA-qualifying conferences/tournaments.
Click here to read WIN’s other conference previews.

Qualifying Tournament for the NCAA:
March 9, 2013 @ Boston University in Boston, Mass.

Last Year’s CAA Finish in Binghamton, N.Y.:
1. Hofstra, 80.5; 2. Binghamton, 78.5; 3. Old Dominion, 68.5; 4. Boston U., 34; 5. Drexel, 33.5; 6. George Mason, 30.5; 7. Rider, 28.

Last Year’s CAA Performance in the NCAA Tournament:
All seven schools competed in St. Louis with Binghamton earning the highest finish (14th) among the CAA teams. The Bearcats were followed by Hofstra (23rd), Old Dominion (55th), Boston U. (56th), Rider (59th), Drexel and George Mason (tied for 64th). A total of 27 CAA wrestlers (four more than 2011) competed with four men earning All-American honors; two each by Binghamton and Hofstra. The highest individual finish was a third-place finish by Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson (149) while heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski brought home an eighth-place finish. Hofstra’s top-eight finishes came from Justin Accordino (6th at 149) and 125-pound Steve Bonano (8th). Only Vinson is back for Binghamton (Gwiazdowski transferred to NC State). Both of Hofstra’s All-Americans return in 2012-13.

2012-13 Note: This will be the last year that Old Dominion will compete in the CAA. Next year, the Monarchs will wrestle in the Mid-American Conference.


Hofstra’s Steve Bonano (top) posted the most wins (32) of his career in collecting one of two All-American honors for the Pride last March. (Tim Tushla image)

1. Hofstra — Former Pride wrestler Rob Anspach begins his second year at the helm with his two returning All-Americans — seniors Steve Bonano (125) and Justin Accordino (149) — and four of six qualifiers back in 2012-13. Bonano posted the most wins (32) in his career while finishing eighth and Accordino was unseeded before claiming a sixth-place finish. Also back are a pair of juniors in 133-pound Jamie Franco and 141-pound Luke Vaith. Franco was 14-22 in his career before winning 24 of 34 matches last winter while Vaith finished at 24-10.

Binghamton’s Donnie Vinson may have been “upset” when he lost in the first round as a No. 3 seed at 149 pounds last March. But the Bearcat fought back to win seven consolation bouts to claim third in the NCAAs last March. (Tim Tushla image)

2. Binghamton — Former Clarion coach Matt Dernlan is beginning his first year leading the Bearcats after former coach Pat Popolizio moved on to NC State, where he was joined by one of two returning All-Americans, heavyweight Nick Gwiazdowski. The most notable of the five returning national qualifiers from 2012 is senior Donnie Vinson, who lost a first-round match in St. Louis, but came back to win seven consolation bouts to claim third place and 40 wins at 149 pounds. Two other seniors with NCAA experience are also returning: 184-pound Nathan Schiedel (28-8) and 197-pound Cody Reed (23-16).

3. Old Dominion — Competing in the CAA for the final time — the Monarchs will wrestling in the MAC in 2013-14 — Old Dominion did not feature an All-American last March. But coach Steve Martin returns five wrestlers from those Nationals, including Justin LaValle (141), John Nicholson (157) and Tristan Warner (165) who each recorded 27 wins on the season. They will be joined by a pair of sophomores — Jerome Robinson (125) and Scott Festejo (133) — who also received national experience in 2012.

4. Drexel — Second-year coach Matt Azevedo sent three wrestlers to the Nationals in his first year with the Dragons in 2012 and two — Joe Booth (165) and Brandon Palik (197) — return this year. Booth has appeared in three straight NCAAs, but last year was the first time he failed to win a match. Palik improved his career mark to 44-27 with a 25-15 record last winter when he qualified for the NCAAs for a first time.

5. Boston U. — The Terriers sent two wrestlers to the NCAAs last winter and both — Kyle Czarnecki (174) and Peter Innis (Hwt) — are returning this season for coach Carl Adams, who is beginning his 31st season at the helm.

6. George Mason — Coach Joe Russell, the former long-time assistant coach at Minnesota, sent one wrestler — 125-pound freshman Vince Rodriquez — to last year’s Nationals.

7. Rider — Two Rider wrestlers competed in the 2012 Nationals and one — 174-pound Jim Resnick — was competing for a third time for coach Gary Taylor, who is beginning his 32nd year for the school in Lawrenceville, N.J.