For the first time in league history, all 15 teams met for one day of wrestling to decide which team was number one. Going into the NECCWA dual meet tournament, the Ephs were ranked third. People around the league questioned giving the third seed to the Ephs, but the doubters were silenced once the day was done.
The Ephs’ first match was against 14th-ranked University of Southern Maine. Charles Danhof ’03 started off the tournament for the Ephs with a first period pin. Matt Gunther ’00 followed up the Danhof pin with a 9-1 win at 157. Chris Ripley ’01 sealed the victory with a pin at heavyweight. The final score was 33-15.
The second match of the day was against sixth-ranked Bridgewater. Saying that they had not wrestled their top wrestlers against the Ephs last week, Bridgewater was confident that they would win the match. But their top wrestlers would not be enough. Once again Danhof started off the match with a first period pin. Gunther also had another impressive victory 7-2. Senior co-captain Rob Quan moved up a weight class to 157 and won 11-3. Conan Leary also won at 184. With the match very close, sixth-ranked Ken Ojukwu ’01 took the mat to face top-ranked Doug Currier. Ojukwu won 8-2. Heavyweight Chris Sweatman ’00 sealed the victory with a first period pin. The final team score was 26-15.
The next match of the day was against number two Norwich University. Another Danhof first period pin and a 12-6 victory by Chris Ripley ’01 were not enough. Three Eph wrestlers lost by a total of four points. “We had three or four matches that could have gone either way,” said head coach Mike Whalen. The Ephs fell to Norwich 31-9.
The consolation match faced the Ephs against Johnson and Wales. As if three first period pins for the day by fourth ranked Charles Danhof weren’t impressive enough, he did it again, this time against the number three ranked wrestler in New England, Kevin Vees. Gunther won his third match of the day. Rob Quan ’00 won a major decision 15-2. Kenny Marines ’01 was moved up to 157 and was winning 8-2, before his opponent injury defaulted. Conan Leary ’02 then won 11-3, and Sweatman got his second pin of the day to seal the win. The final was 32-21. The Ephs finished third in the tournament.
Whalen said, “I was really happy the way we rebounded after our loss. We came back and wrestled well against a tough Johnson and Wales team. I felt Gunther and Danhof going 7-1 was the key. When you start off like that, you are going to win matches. Not only did we win at the beginning, but our heavyweights going 4-0 helped to seal the victories.”
Earlier in the week the Ephmen defeated Bridgewater 36-9 and Coast Guard 22-15. Kenny Marines ’01 and Danhof turned in impressive performances. Both were 2-0 on the day.
Sweatman grappled his way to a 10-1 win against Coast Guard. The highlight of the day belonged to Quan. He defeated Bridgewater’s Nathan Gorman by technical fall (18-3). Gorman was ranked second in New England.
The Ephs next travel to Springfield to face the top-ranked Pride this Wednesday. They then travel to Roger Williams on Saturday to square off against Hunter, Montclair and the College of New Jersey.
Courtesy of Sports Information