The Williams wrestling team beat Sacred Heart, New York University and Roger Williams University at the Williams College Wrestling Dual Meet Tournament held in Lasell Gymnasium last Saturday. The Ephs, ranked fifth in NCAA Division III New England, were narrowly defeated by Division I Princeton University.
Against Division I Sacred Heart, the Ephs began slowly, dropping two of their first four matches. Paul Francis ’02 was the early bright spot, winning by a technical fall 23-5 at 149 lbs. First-year standout David Roberts was leading 8-0 in the first period of the next match when his opponent became too injured to continue and defaulted the match. A close 16-13 win by Sacred Heart over Isaac Dietzel ’01 brought the Pioneers to within four team points of the Ephs. Conan Leary ’02 received a forfeit at 184 lbs, as did heavyweight Chris Sweatman ’00. In between, Mike Gioiello ’02 made his collegiate debut in impressive fashion with a convincing 14-2 win over Dustin Cook. The final team score was 27-7 Williams.
The next dual meet pitted the Ephs against a tough NYU team. Kenny Marines ’01 began the meet with four explosive takedowns in the first period en route to a 14-5 victory over Peter Johnson. Marines totally dominated the match; all of Johnson’s points were escapes.
Matt Shear ’02 was next at 149 lbs. and could not recover from a 6-1 deficit, losing 7-4. Junior co-captain Rob Quan put the Ephs back on the winning track with a hard-fought 7-3 win over Jacob Stevens. After Quan’s win, NYU seized the momentum in dramatic fashion. The Ephs’ Evan Rutkowski ’02 was pinned in 3:46, and then co-captain Glen Prichett ’00 was uncharacteristically pinned by Jason Snow in 4:33. Prichett was in control of the match, leading 7-3 and manhandling his opponent until Snow caught him on his back. NYU now led 15-7 and an upset looked to be brewing.
Leary wrestled next at 184 lbs. and lost 3-0, which made the team score 18-7 with four matches remaining. Paul Bethe ’00 was next at 197 lbs. and won handily 7-4 despite being hobbled by an injured ankle.
Heavyweight Sweatman brought the Ephs back into the meet with a 4:13 pin of Robert Robinson. Mike Reisman ’02 was next at 125 lbs. and he put the Ephs ahead for good with a dominating pin of Chris McNeil in a mere 1:25. The last wrestler for the Ephs was Matt Gunther ’00 at 133 lbs. NYU needed a technical fall or a pin to win the meet, but Gunther took control from the outset and easily won 11-2. Gunther netted an astonishing 5:20 of riding time and his win made the final meet score 26-18 in favor of Williams.
The tournament’s marquee matchup was Williams against Princeton. The Tigers got on top early, beating Marines 14-12 and Quan 8-5. Roberts showed remarkable poise for a man just starting collegiate wrestling and evened the team score at six with his 2:06 pin of Princeton’s 157 lb. Ira Bedzow. Roberts racked up 13 points in two minutes before pinning his opponent. Princeton rebounded from the loss, with Ryan Bonfiglia scoring a technical fall over the Ephs’ Rutkowski.
Co-captain Prichett barely lost a very technical and intense match 5-3 at 174 lbs., and Leary was pinned in 2:59 to make the team score 20-6 in favor of Princeton. Ken Ojukwu ’01, who took third place in New England last year, made his presence known this year with a 1:30 pin of Justin Dodulik. Heavyweight Sweatman continued his spotless day with a 3:31 pin of Joseph Rybacki to bring the Ephs within two team points of the Tigers. At 125 lbs., Mike Kilmurray ’00 used his superior conditioning to outlast Andrew Redman 7-2 and put the Ephs ahead 21-20 entering the meet’s final match.
Gunther, whose win clinched the team victory against NYU, was pitted against fellow junior Marc Steyer. Gunther opened the match with a takedown and was promptly reversed. Gunther escaped, was taken down, escaped again, then took Steyer down and rode him for the remainder of the first period. The score was 6-4 Williams after three minutes and Steyer chose the down position to begin the second period. Steyer reversed Gunther, who then escaped. Steyer took Gunther down twice more in the second period and led 10-8 heading into the final period. Gunther chose the down position and escaped. Steyer responded with a takedown, then Gunther escaped and scored a takedown of his own. Gunther spent the second half of the match brilliantly fending off low and deep shots, but was assessed a penalty point for scissoring Steyer’s head with his legs late in the third. Gunther took Steyer down again to make the score 13-12 Princeton, but Steyer reversed him. Gunther couldn’t summon any last minute heroics and fell 15-13, which made the final team score 23-21 Princeton.
After the emotional loss to Princeton, the Ephs were faced with the challenge of Roger Williams, ranked sixth in Division II New England. Marines began the meet with intensity, taking only 1:59 to pin Nicholas Valente. Roberts continued his perfect day, drubbing Raymond Rask 16-4. Roberts scored 15 points in the first period and wrestled defensively for the remainder of the match. Quan took out his frustration at losing to Princeton on Matthew Greim, pinning him in 1:13 to put the Ephs comfortably ahead 16-0.
Rutkowski lost a tight match 6-4 and Dietzel lost 15-3, which brought Roger Williams to within nine team points and renewed their confidence. That confidence was brutally crushed by Prichett, who took a mere 36 seconds to pin Brian Bagdon. Gioiello continued his undefeated collegiate career with his second win, a 2-0 struggle over John McCoy.
Heavyweight Sweatman made a statement to the rest of New England when he capped off his 4-0 day with a 5-2 victory over ranked Timothy Grady. Roger Williams won the final two matches, but lost by a final of 28-13
Outstanding individual wrestlers were heavyweight Sweatman and 149 lb. first-year standout David Roberts. Sweatman recorded two pins and a 4-0 total for the day, while Roberts was 3-0 with one pin. Eph Head Coach Mike Whalen commented on the individual performances, “Sweatman has gotten so much stronger this year. He’s going to be someone to deal with in New England this season. Dave [Roberts] had a great day. He really stepped it up today in terms of match intensity.”
Co-captain Quan assessed the team’s performance, “we showed heart and character. It was a learning experience and we know what we need to do to get better.” Co-captain Prichett added, “the younger guys came through for us today.” Sweatman noted some areas for improvement; “we need to work on setting up our takedowns and we also need to give up fewer points at the end of a period.”
The Ephs’ next meet is in sunny Florida, where they will wrestle some of the nation’s best programs over Christmas vacation.