Audio Interview: Pat Popolizio

Scott Casber

Scott Casber

Pat Popolizio

Binghamton Bearcats Weekly Newsletter

We kicked the season off at home this weekend with back to back competition, hosting George Mason University and Sacred Heart University on Saturday, and running the 5th Annual Binghamton Open at the Events Center on Sunday. The Bearcats posted some solid results both days. We beat conference rival George Mason 31-11 to open the weekend, followed by a 39-13 win over Sacred Heart. On Sunday the team wrestled with more energy and the results of the tournament proved it.


At 125 pounds, Steeley started with a big lead against his George Mason opponent; however, Rodriguez scored several times off that shot late in the match to win 13-11. Steeley then received a forfeit from SHU.

Steeley did not have his best performance at the BU Open, going 1-2 on the day. He faced George Mason's Rodriguez again and this time lost a close match. He struggled in some positions, but we will have him ready to compete next weekend.


At 133 pounds, Patrick Hunter was aggressive and scored with a few takedowns to win his bout against George Mason's Lavorato 10-4. He showed some inconsistencies however, with his performance in the second match, where he lost a 10-2 major decision to Polidore.

After going 4-2 at the BU Open, Hunter was able to gain a lot of experience this weekend: wrestling 8 matches and getting better every time he stepped on the mat. He dropped his first match to the eventual champion from UPenn.

Dan Riggi went 3-2 competing unattached and was a match from placing in the tournament. Colton Perry picked up a 7-0 win over GMU starter Lavarato and was also wrestling unattached. Alex Neal, wrestling unattached, also competed and is gaining experience.


At 141 pounds, Joe Bonaldi wrestled well in his first ever collegiate match and looked solid both offensively and defensively. Joe will improve as the season continues because of his work ethic and determination. He won 7-4 over a very tough Herndon from GMU. Joe then received a forfeit from SHU. At the BU Open, Bonaldi went 2-2 with his first loss coming to NCAA All-American Kemmerer of UPenn and his second to two-time NCAA National Qualifier Kirchner of Rider. He picked up 10-4 and 7-2 decision wins on the day. Derek Heyman went 3-2 at the tournament wrestling unattached. His best match was a dominant 14-6 win over Ellis of Penn.


At 149 pounds, Donnie Vinson looked like he was ready to win a national title in both bouts. He pinned both of his opponents (Bakuckas of GMU and Belanger of SHU). Donnie scored a lot of points in each match but neither opponent was able to make it to the third period. Wrestling unattached at the BU Open was Vinnie Grella and Ben Price. They both went 1-2 at the open.


At 157 pounds, Justin Lister majored Bethea of GMU and pinned Evangelista of SHU. Lister went 4-1 at the BU Open, falling in the finals to 2X NCAA D1 National Champ Kyle Dake of Cornell 6-2. He had a thrilling 6-5 win over returning All-American Peppelman of Harvard to go along with his three pins. Adam Morris and Angelo Bortoluzzi both wrestled unattached with Morris picking up two tech falls and Bortoluzzi picking up two decision wins.


At 165 pounds, Matt Kaylor majored and pinned his two opponents. He wrestled very well with a good hard pace. His major came against Knepp of GMU and his fall was against Rizzitello of SHU. Kaylor went 6-1 overall on the weekend, picking up 2nd place at the BU Open. He wrestled well throughout the weekend but made a mistake in the finals and got taken down to lose 2-3 to NCAA All-American Gillespie of Hofstra.


At 174 pounds, Caleb Wallace had a slow start, lowing to McLaughlin, of GMM 17-7. Caleb rebounded with an 8-3 win over Rizzitello. In the second match, Caleb was more offensive and looked better. Caleb really started to come alive on Sunday as he placed 6th, wrestling more confidently and aggressively. Caleb picked up three wins at the BU Open.


At 184 pounds, Nate Schiedel looked very good in his only match on Saturday, pinning Hembury of GMU with a bear hug in the second period. John Paris wrestled at 184 against Moran of SHU. He was in a tight match when he had to injury default due to a knee injury. At the BU Open, Schiedel took 3rd place. He collected four wins at the open but made a mistake and surrendered the winning takedown in the semifinals.


At 197 pounds, John Paris wrestled up in the match against Tovuujav of GMU. Tovuujav kept the match on their feet and scored with a variety of takedowns. Paris dropped the bout 3-14. Tyler Deuel scored with a pin off a takedown in the match against Morrison of SHU. Cody Reed wrestled very well in the BU Open placing a strong second. He went 3-1 losing in the finals to 2X NCAA D1 All-American Simaz of Cornell. He wrestled with a good pace and a lot of energy. Tyler Deuel and Mike McKeever both competed at the BU Open as well at 197 pounds.


At heavyweight, Nick Gwiazdowski scored a pin in his first collegiate match over Barnette of GMU in the second period. Mike McKeever bumped up to heavyweight against Neidhart of SHU and dropped a 7-2 decision. McKeever scored a nice takedown on the edge of the mat but Neidhart got the win. Gwiazdowksi went 4-0 and won the BU Open. He was impressive in his first collegiate tournament with two pins, a 14-4 major decision, and an 8-2 decision win.

Coaches Corner

Overall, I thought the team showed a tremendous improvement from the dual meet to our tournament competition. We competed more aggressively on Sunday and the results showed it, with five of our student-athletes finishing in the top three. The level of competition in this tournament was highly competitive so having four wrestlers reach the finals and another wrestler finish 3rd shows our ability win at the National Level. We will continue to face many ranked opponents throughout the remainder of the season and look forward to the challenges that lie ahead.

Two student-athletes who had a stand-out weekend are Justin Lister and Nick Gwiazdowski. Justin Lister was behind early in his match against Peppelman of Harvard, but showed a lot of heart and fight, coming from behind to win an exciting match.

Nick Gwiazdowski, a true freshman, demonstrated that his wrestling talent and abilities are legitimate and ready for collegiate opponents. Nick showed a lot of composure after being down early; coming back to tie up the match and then getting the pin makes a big statement. He has high goals for this season and should find himself in the national rankings very soon.

Upcoming Match

The Bearcats' next match will be at the Body Bar Invitational held at Cornell University on Saturday, November 19th. This tournament draws some of the best wrestling teams in the country, including Minnesota this year, so it should be a great day of wrestling.


A special thanks to all of the friends and family of Binghamton Wrestling who helped coordinate food, set-up and breakdown for our wrestling-filled weekend. Thank you for all the help!

Thank you to Colleen Schiedel and Joanne Perry for all their time and energy spent helping with the hospitality room. No doubt about it—it is arguably the best hospitality room in the country.

Another special thanks goes to the Morris family for streaming our matches at It is a huge help to have our matches broadcasted live over the internet for all our fans who cannot attend!

For those that have not bought your Binghamton Bearcats wrestling gear from World Wide Sports Supply, you only have until November 30th to get your gear!

Get your gear here:


Binghamton 31, George Mason 11

125 Vince Rodriguez (GMU) dec. Derek Steeley (BU), 13-11 

133 Patrick Hunter (BU) dec. Rich Lavorato (GMU), 10-4

141 Joe Bonaldi (BU) dec. Denny Herndon (GMU), 7-4 

149 #8 Donnie Vinson (BU) WBF Mike Bakuckas (GMU), 2:34 

157 #11 Justin Lister (BU) dec. Jaaziah Bethea (GMU), 6-1

165 Matt Kaylor (BU) major dec. Ty Knepp (GMU), 12-3 

174 Frankie McLaughlin (GMU) major dec. Caleb Wallace (BU), 17-7 

184 Nate Schiedel (BU) WBF Ryan Hembury (GMU), 3:33

197 Bagna Tovuujav (GMU) major dec. John Paris (BU), 14-3 

Hwt Nick Gwiazdowski (BU) WBF Adam Barnette (GMU), 4:38

Binghamton 39, Sacred Heart 13

125 Derek Steeley (BU) forfeit win

133 Andrew Polidore (SHU) major decision Patrick Hunter (BU), 10-2

141 Joe Bonaldi (BU) forfeit win

149 #8 Donnie Vinson (BU) WBF Justin Belanger (SHU), 3:59

157 #11 Justin Lister (BU) WBF Joe Evangelista (SHU), 1:17

165 Matt Kaylor (BU) WBF Michael Impellizeri (SHU), 1:40

174 Caleb Wallace (BU) dec. Jonathan Rizzitello (SHU), 8-3 

184 Zach Moran (SHU) injury default over John Paris (BU)

197 Tyler Deuel (BU) WBF Sam Morrison (SHU), 1:59

Hwt T.J. Neidhart (SHU) def. Mike McKeever (BU), 7-2

Updated Rankings

For the first time ever, Binghamton makes the top 25 team rankings. Justin Lister is currently ranked at #6 and Donnie Vinson is ranked at #7. We will continue to build off this in the months to come.
Pat Popolizio
Head Wrestling Coach
Binghamton University