Hofstra will open the season with wrestle-offs this week before taking the mat at the Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open at Binghamton on November 13.
New York Wrestling News spoke with head coach Dennis Papadatos about the upcoming campaign.
“We’re a young team and some guys will redshirt, but this is the happiest I’ve been since coming back to Hofstra to coach," Papadatos said. "I’m really happy with all the guys we’ve brought in. Adding Mike Patrovich and Jamie Franco to the staff has been unbelievable; that’s the only word I can use to describe it. We’re finally a team, I can tell you that. Everyone’s working and there’s a lot of cohesion and camaraderie. We’re in a good place. We’re young, so there will be some lumps along the way. But I can finally see the end product we’re looking for. We’ll just keep chipping away.”
Let's take a look at what Papadatos said in a weight-by-weight preview of the Pride.
Why do we have 125 and 133 together? There are four guys in the conversation at these weights - Jacob Martin, Vinny Vespa, Garrett Lambert and Bryan Damon.
“We expect Jacob Martin to be the guy at 125," Papadatos said. "He’s doing great. He’s everything you want in a kid. He won 13 matches last year in Division 1 tournaments while at Wyoming Seminary Prep, so we expect him to jump in and compete for us. Lambert has a nagging injury and we haven’t determined how long he’ll be out. We expect him to challenge for 125 if he’s healthy. If we can redshirt Damon, that’s what we’d like to do.”
Meanwhile, former Monroe Woodbury standout Vinny Vespa is likely to get the nod at 133.
“Vinny was at Army Prep last year and he won a bunch of matches at open tournaments. He proved he can win at 133 and we’re excited to see what he can do for us. He also hasn’t ruled out 125. It’s all still a little bit up in the air. After wrestle-offs, I’ll have an even better gauge.”
“Kyle Krasavage and Connor Burkert will be battling for the spot at 141. Krasavage has the early lead. To be honest, he looks really, really good; probably the best in the entire room right now outside of Mike Hughes. We’ll have true freshman Charlie Kane wrestle off with Connor Burkert, with the winner taking on Kyle.”
“Ryan Burkert and Connor Muli will wrestle off here. Right now, Ryan has the edge and looks to be the guy. He made big gains over the summer. There’s no way you can outwork him, you can work as hard, but harder is nearly impossible. I think his work ethic will pay dividends.”
"Jake Kaminsky is coming off redshirt after winning something like 25 matches last year. He’s a big '57' pounder; this may be his only year at this weight. True freshman Ricky Stamm will wrestle him off. Ricky gets better every single day - it’s impressive. We’ll try to redshirt Ricky if we can.”
“Bobby Fehr contemplated going 174 because of some freestyle success he had up there, but in the end we decided on 165 as his best weight. We also have Anthony Oliveri, a true freshman from New Jersey here. He’s impressed me a lot. We might not redshirt him and let him battle it out with Bobby. Oliveri has a great attitude. He needs some fine tuning, but he’s strong and tough and can win a lot of matches for those reasons."
“Sage Heller is a true freshman who is way more talented than we even realized. He showed early signs of being really good. He’s been banged up a little bit now so we need to get him ready. If he can make some mental adjustments, we have high expectations for him this year. Whoever doesn’t win at 165 could come up and challenge.”
“Cory Damiana is probably the most improved guy on the team. He has me believing. We may redshirt him, though, because a redshirt year could be a big benefit to build on the huge jumps he’s made. He’ll wrestle off with Mike Oxley, who is moving down from 197. Mike has also made some improvements. We’ll decide then what we’ll do at this weight for this year.”
“Nezar Haddad is likely the guy. He was here all summer after transferring from Drexel. We like what we see from him.”
“Omar Haddad weighs 235 right now. He had surgery over the summer, so he missed some time, but he’s been back live for a while and looks good. We’re confident that Omar can do the job, but of course we’ll miss having [2016 NCAA qualifier] Mike Hughes in the lineup while he redshirts this year. We have huge expectations for Mike when he returns next season.”
“We’re excited about this season and then we won’t graduate anyone after this year,” Papadatos said. “We’re building toward next year when we host the conference tournament. The overall vibe of the room and the team will pay dividends. It’s fun to be at practice every day right now. We’re coming out swinging.”