Kevin Devoy Jr., right, locked in with the wrestler he would beat to become the Eastern Interscholastic Wrestling Association Champion, Lehigh University's Mason Beckman. Photo by Justin Lafleur.
After losing to a particular opponent twice, most might have reservations about facing that person a third time.
Kevin Devoy Jr. didn’t have any hesitation when faced with that situation. Instead, he had a plan.
Devoy, a redshirt sophomore, faced Lehigh University’s Mason Beckman, a redshirt junior, for the 133 pound championship of the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) March 7. Devoy was seeded second while Beckman was the weight class’ top seed.
“I was confident I could win the match. It was the third time wrestling him. I lost last year in the conference finals, a close one, and we wrestled earlier in the year in the Southern Scuffle and he was finishing all his shots and it wasn’t close,” Devoy told DrexelNow. “My game plan this time was to not let him finish his shots and not let him get the takedowns.”
That strategy served Devoy well enough to get him through three overtime periods.
“It’s nerve-wracking,” said Drexel head wrestling coach Matt Azevedo. “You just yell out a few things here and there and hope it helps. You’re kind of a spectator in some ways at that point … Kevin always make it interesting.”
Devoy began the fourth period with a “riding time” (the time he had control over Beckman in the match) advantage of 18 seconds in the fourth period.
Devoy on the podium with his conference championship trophy. Photo by Justin Lafleur.
“I knew I had to get out and then I’d be conference champion,” Devoy said. “I was exhausted but he was breathing really heavy so I knew he was more tired. I didn’t have any stalling calls on me at the time so I knew I could back up and I wrestled defensive.”
Sure enough, Devoy was able to stick it out, defeating the All-American Beckman to take home the first EIWA championship for Drexel.
“It was an awesome feeling,” Devoy said.
“He’s a fighter,” Azevedo said of Devoy. “I always say he’s got the heart of a lion. He will fight to the bitter end — he never gives up, never gives in. He’s been a special kid since he stepped on campus.”
On top of Devoy’s landmark championship for Drexel, two other Dragon wrestlers finished third in their weight classes: redshirt sophomore Matthew Cimato (149 pounds) and redshirt senior Noel Blanco (157 pounds). It was quite an accomplishment for such a strong field in the championships.
“It’s a great conference, one of the toughest in the country behind the Big Ten,” Devoy said. “There’s definitely a lot of depth in the conference. There are really no easy matches.”
As a team, Drexel finished sixth this year, an improvement on the 13th place they achieved in 2014’s championships.
“Our team really showed up,” Azevedo said. “It was the best we had wrestled as a team all season long.”
The success in the EIWA championships can serve as a springboard to the NCAA tournament. Devoy, Cimato and Blanco and redshirt sophomore David Pearce, who finished fourth for a 141 pounder in the EIWA championships, will be headed to St. Louis, Missouri, this week to compete in the national championships.
“Our conference is a very tough conference,” Azevedo said. “We may see some of these guys at the national championships. [Performing well at the EIWA championships] just reaffirms these guys are working hard and ready to compete at a high level.”
“I think [the EIWA championship] was a great opportunity,” Devoy said. “It gives me a lot of confidence knowing I beat a returning All-American. I feel like I can go out there and wrestle anybody.”