The third-ranked Ephs (16-6) lost to top-ranked Norwich University 28-9 in a showdown between two nationally ranked New England powers. The Ephs are currently ranked twentieth nationally in Division III, and Norwich is ranked eighth. Before wrestling Norwich, the Ephs beat unranked Kings Point 45-6.
“These kind of days are part of the learning process,” commented Head Coach Mike Whalen. “We wrestled much better than we did against [second-ranked] Springfield. We were more aggressive and we tried things. Many matches could have gone either way. I hope we learn from our mistakes and have better results next weekend.”
Norwich seized the momentum early when Dusty Rich beat Eph co-captain Marty West ‘98, 6-1, and Robert Ulrich beat sophomore Matt Gunther 19-6. At 134 lbs. Freshman Kenny Marines lost 20-6 to one of Norwich’s three nationally ranked wrestlers, Leo Nulvey. All six of Marines’s points were escapes.
The high point of the day for Mike Whalen’s young squad was sophomore Rob Quan’s dramatic double-overtime win over third-ranked Chad Sinclair. The first period of the match was scoreless. In the second, Sinclair managed an escape to take the lead 1-0. Quan escaped in the third period to tie the match at one.
The first overtime period was a scoreless defensive battle. In the second and final overtime, Quan escaped in 22 seconds for the 2-1 win.
The momentum gained by Quan’s dramatic win evaporated when third-ranked senior co-captain Jeremy Kay ’98 was pinned by second-ranked Mike Bergeron in 6:32. Due to a death in his family, second-ranked Glenn Prichett ‘00 was unable to wrestle at 167 lbs. Head Coach Mike Whalen inserted freshman Alexi Evriviades at 158 lbs. and moved 158 lb. Dan DiCenzo ‘01 up to 167 lbs.
Evriviades lost a hard-fought match 14-7 to Dave Hamel, who is ranked second in the nation. DiCenzo recorded the Ephs’ first takedown of the night, but lost to sixth-ranked Pat Brown 5-2. Paul Bethe ‘00 faced the third nationally ranked Norwich wrestler, Jason Venne, and lost 10-3.
The Ephs finished on a strong note, winning their last two matches. Freshman star Ken Ojukwu continued his climb in the rankings with a 7-3 decision over second-ranked Peter Connery. In the heavyweight division, third-ranked Chris Sweatman ’00 took down Sean Cullinane 3-2.
“We needed to have a perfect day to win,” remarked West. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen.” Looking ahead to the New England Tournament, West is very optimistic. “We’re excited to go, the whole season is practice for this tournament. I think we’ll improve on our showing from last year, and continue to prove we belong with the top teams in the country. Many guys have a chance to qualify for Nationals.”
The Ephs wrestle in the New England Tournament at Roger Williams University (RI) next weekend.