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|Drexel Wrestling Joins Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association
Molly Sweeney Drexel Athletic Communications
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Drexel wrestling will have a permanent new home for the 2013-14 season as the Dragons join former CAA conference-mate Hofstra as two of the newest members of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association. The association announced on Thursday that it was adding Drexel along with Hofstra University, Binghamton University and Boston University.
Drexel wrestling will be entering its third season under head coach Matt Azevedo. The Dragons won eight dual matches last season, including a 24-19 win over George Mason in the first ever Grapple at the Garden, held at New York's Madison Square Garden. The Dragons sent two wrestlers, Frank Cimato and Brandon Palik, to the NCAA Championships, where each won an individual match.
Drexel Athletics Director Dr. Eric Zillmer expressed his enthusiasm for the announcement on Thursday morning. “We are very excited about joining the EIWA,” Zillmer remarked. “Our academic profile and our ambitions in Division I wrestling matches those that are currently members in the EIWA. At Drexel athletics, we are proud of our rich history in the sport of wrestling, having had NCAA national qualifiers every year dating back to 1998. As an institution, we are invested in graduating our student-athletes and have a reliable track record of being completely gender equitable for all of our sports. By joining the EIWA, we believe that the best is yet to come for Drexel wrestling.”
“Everyone at Drexel is excited about joining the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association,” echoed Azevedo. “The EIWA has been around for over 100 years and has a storied history in the world of collegiate wrestling. There are so many outstanding institutions in the EIWA and I am honored to know that Drexel will be competing with them next year. I would like to thank President John Fry, Dr. Zillmer and [Deputy Athletics Director] Nick Gannon for their support of our wrestling program and this move to the EIWA. We have a bright future ahead of us."
For their part, the EIWA expressed excitement about the prospect of adding Drexel and Hofstra, two former members of the Colonial Athletic Association's wrestling conference. “The coaches and EIWA administrators looked at this and thought that Drexel and Hofstra were a great fit for our conference,” said EIWA executive director Greg Strobel. “I've often wondered why Drexel and Hofstra weren't in our conference already, as it makes sense for them to be in this conference logistically because of their location and familiarity with our existing teams. This will be exciting for our fans, and we are looking forward to this year's tournament with Drexel and Hofstra participating alongside our existing members.”
Drexel joins the EIWA after 12 years as a member of the Colonial Athletic Association. The Dragons boasted five CAA champions, including Palik this season at 197. During that time, Drexel sent a total of 34 wrestlers to the NCAA Championships.
Current EIWA membership includes: Ivy League members Brown University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania; Patriot League members American University, Bucknell University, Lehigh University, the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy; Current Big East Member Rutgers University; Northeast Conference (NEC) member Sacred Heart University; and Centennial Conference member Franklin and Marshall, which wrestles on the Division I level.
The Big Red of Cornell has captured seven consecutive EIWA championships. Columbia and Pennsylvania have each competed in 109 EIWA Championship Tournaments with Princeton (107), Cornell (105) and Lehigh (101) close behind. Lehigh has won 34 team titles while Cornell has captured 21.
The EIWA, which received 45 bids to the 2013 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, earned six All-American honors.
Among the All-Americans was four-time national champion Kyle Dake from Cornell, who captured the 2013 title at 165 pounds after previously winning at 141, 149 and 157 pounds. Robert Hamlin from Lehigh placed second at 184 pounds while Steve Bosak from Cornell placed third at 184, Steve Santos from Columbia finished third at 149 and Nahshon Garrett from Cornell was third at 125.