Many observers, both wrestling fans and otherwise, consider wrestling to be a highly individual sport. Based on the Ephs’ season, however, wrestling stands out as a team sport. Throughout the season, Murphy’s Law took effect on the Ephs: Conan Leary ’02, Charles Danhof ’03 and Tom Prairie ’05, three key starters, suffered season-ending injuries.
The loss of those three integral wrestlers affected the entire team dynamic and performance, due to practical effects such as the lack of practice partners in the wrestling room and the psychological effects of the losses. With those injuries, head coach Mike Whalen had to put together an inexperienced team. The nature of the youthful team made the season difficult, but bodes well for the future of Williams wrestling.
At many tough moments, wrestlers were tempted to feel sorry for themselves and the situation of the team, especially following such a promising beginning to the season. As time moved on, the team bonded and, with the help of the coaches, pushed themselves to become the best team they could.
This effort culminated in a victory over University of Southern Maine and a so-called “moral victory” over Plymouth State (in which the team won more matches, discounting forfeits) in the last dual meet in Milford, NH. No additional individuals joined the team, but the teamwork and perseverance of the Ephs produced ten wins, a team goal that seemed unachievable at some points in the season.
Seemingly peeking at the end of the season, the team had high hopes for the New England Collegiate Conference Wrestling Association (NECCWA) championships.
Unfortunately, the coaches association often seeded the wrestlers conservatively, due to multiple factors such as time off due to injury, inconsistent performance and youth. Greg Matisoff ’05 (165 lb.), Mike Cirito ’05 (184 lb.), Josh Weisenbeck ’04 (149 lb.) and Gus Whyte ’03 (174 lb.) all won at least one match. Cirito lateral dropped an opponent for a pin, and Whyte came within one point of placing.
With the best performances of the day, Dan Jacobs ’04 (141 lb.) placed sixth and Justin Sullivan ’04 (HWT) placed fifth. As the fourth seed, Jacobs had a tough route to placing, with a match against Springfield’s All-American Kieth Poloskey, in the third round.
Sullivan lost his second match on a questionable stall call with less than ten seconds left, putting the match eventually into double overtime. Sullivan exhibited great fortitude, wrestling with a badly injured hand for most of the end of the season.
While individual and team goals were frustrated at many points in the season, the outlook for next season looks very bright for the Ephs.