The Hofstra wrestling team was recognized as pre-season favorites in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and have five wrestlers ranked No. 1 in their respective weight classes.
The Pride, who captured their ninth CAA title in the past 10 years last season, have seven wrestlers ranked in the conference preseason poll giving them 24 points.
Leading the team in 2011 is All-American, senior P.J. Gillespie (Long Beach, NY), who posted a 28-10 record and finished eighth at 165 pounds at the NCAA Championships last season. Classmate Ben Clymer (Germansville, PA), who captured his first CAA title last year on the way to the NCAA Championship tournament, was 22-10 and is ranked first at 184 pounds entering 2011-12. Junior Steve Bonanno (Wantagh, NY), who is a two-time CAA finalist and NCAA qualifier, posted a 24-13 record in 2010-11 and is the top-ranked wrestler at 125 pounds in the preseason poll.
Classmate Paul Snyder (Greensburg, PA), who captured his first conference title and made his inaugural trip to the NCAA Championships last year, was 25-16 last season and is number one at 285 pounds in the preseason poll. Redshirt sophomore Luke Vaith (Hastings, MN), who redshirted last year, was an All-CAA Rookie Team selection in 2009-10 and posted a 16-18 record that year while starting at 141 and 133 pounds. He is the top-ranked 141-pound wrestler in the preseason poll.
Senior Vince Varela (Rio Rancho, NM), who placed second in the CAA and earned his first NCAA Championship bid last season, was 21-15 at 141 pounds in 2010-11 and is ranked third at 149 pounds this year. The CAA coaches have ranked the Pride tandem of redshirt juniors Justin Accordino (Wilkes-Barre, PA) and Tyler Banks (Griswold, CT) third at 157 pounds. Accordino, who moves up from 149 pounds, posted a 9-6 record before suffering a season-ending knee injury at the Southern Scuffle last December. Banks, who placed third in the CAA last year, posted a 21-16 record, including an 18-15 mark at 157 pounds.