As junior heavyweight Ed Broderick tussled with his opponent, the Packer Hall crowd beamed with anticipation, understanding that College history was only seconds away.
Broderick gained position early, and when the referee’s hand slammed the mat, signifying Broderick’s pin, the College’s first match of the season had ended, two major accomplishments were achieved, and the celebration was just beginning.
The Lions’ 53-0 victory over Norwich University on Saturday was not only the 600th dual-meet win for the College’s wrestling program, but the 500th victory for head coach David Icenhower in his 34-year tenure at the school. The College is only the 28th program to achieve such a feat, and Icenhower becomes a member of an elite club of only four coaches in Division I, II or III with 500 or more career victories.
Following the match, Icenhower was presented with two large signs, one for the program’s achievement and one for his own. Icenhower received the signs, and turned to the Packer Hall crowd full of former Lion wrestlers cheering and waving blue and gold pieces of paper with Icenhower’s face printed on them. The coach held the sign over his head to the applause of generations of College grapplers, and finally, the milestones that had remained on the team’s minds since last season were reached.
“It’s good to finally get it over with,” Icenhower said. “I look forward to going over and spending some time with a lot of these guys, we have over 100 alumni back, it’s awesome.”
The Lions’ current wrestlers were humbled by the experience.
“Being part of this historic match is such an honor because there have been so many great wrestlers and coaches to come through this program,” junior John Barnett said. “I am just very fortunate that I was able to be a part of this accomplishment that began over 30 years ago. ‘Ice’ is an incredible individual that has done so much for this school, and I was very honored to have the chance to be out on that mat and help him reach this great milestone.”
Wrestling at 141 pounds, Barnett defeated his opponent 3-1 in what was a very strong overall performance by the Lions against the weaker Cadets. The College pinned five Norwich opponents, including impressive contests by Broderick and his brother, freshman Brian Broderick, as each pinned their opponents within the first three minutes of their bouts.
“It was great to win in dominant fashion for the first win of the year,” Barnett said. “Of course Norwich wasn’t really any good, but we definitely made a statement as a team that it is going to be hard to beat us this year.”
First-year graduate student and tri-captain Dan DiColo expressed his excitement to come back for his final year of
“It feels good, any time to come and wrestle for ‘Ice’ for another year, it’s really good and he’s a great coach as you can see with the 500 wins, it’s awesome,” DiColo said.
Junior tri-captain Justin Bonitatis added, “Coach ‘Ice’ is an amazing coach who truly cares about us as wrestlers and people, I am very happy for him to accomplish what he has. It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and Ice earned and deserves everything he’s accomplished.”
Following the presentation of the signs, Icenhower requested all alumni come down to the floor for a group photo holding the banner commemorating the 600th win. A reception for alumni was held afterward in the Brower Student Center.
“It really felt great to wrestle in front of all the alumni who competed in that very same place years ago,” Bonitatis said. “It’s a honor to wrestle in front of them and show them that (the College), although the name is different, is still putting together teams that want to win national titles.”
Barnett added, “Meeting the alumni that used to wrestle at (the College) was very special to me. My high school coach wrestled for Ice and he introduced me to a lot of the guys he used to wrestle with along with many other guys that were All-Americans during their careers. It’s a great experience to get to shake hands with guys that are legends at this school.”
Instead of reflecting on his accomplishments, Icenhower chose to enjoy the moment.
“I think I’ll appreciate it later. The fun is having everyone back and having them see each other and doing things.”
Junior Adam Koziol added, “A lot of those guys still come around the practice room every once and a while ... they all still have a lot of pride in the program and I think they would be proud of how we’re carrying on the team after they’ve gone.”
Once the nostalgia dies down, Icenhower and the No. 12-ranked Lions will look ahead to the Fall Brawl hosted by Ursinus College, scheduled to kick off at 9 a.m. on Nov. 14.