Wrestling plays tough but loses to Simpson after defeating Gettysburg

Capping a busy week of competition that involved two dual meets and tournaments in two different time zones, wrestling returned from Indianola, Iowa on Sunday.

The Ephs lost to Simpson College on Friday, but captain Charles Danhof ’03 placed in the Simpson Invitational on Sunday. The Ephs defeated Gettysburg College last Wednesday at home.

“Even though there were a lot of losses, they were close losses,” Head Coach Michael Whalen said. “That may not mean much in New England, but in Iowa it means a lot.”

Simpson, ranked 21st nationally, took seven-of-ten matches in their 28-9 victory over Williams. Although Tom Prairie ’05 (125 lb), Tim Madden ’06 (141lb), and Gus Whyte ’04 (174 lb) accounted for Williams’ only wins – each by minor decision – four of the Ephs’ losses were decided by less than three points.

Danhof (133 lb) was the only Eph to place in Saturday’s Simpson Invitational tournament. He took third place after defeating Quent Christensen of Simpson College in the consolation finals with a last minute take-down to tie and an overtime take-down to win. Christensen had beaten Danhof 8-6 the previous evening.

“Charles’ weight class had two of the best kids in the country,” Whalen said. “He wrestled an unbelievable tournament.”

According to Whalen, Danhof’s performance this weekend marked a return to the “Danhof of old.” Having missed the second half of last season with a torn ACL and MCL, Danhof struggled early this season, leaving Whalen with doubts as to whether the 2001 All-New England wrestler would ever return to full form.

“As a coach, you see kids that have their career threatened by injuries, and a lot of the time they’ll walk away. [Charles] put in one solid year of rehab and struggled early. Then all of a sudden, the switch came on.”

Sophomore stand-out Prairie (ranked sixth nationally) won his first match of the tournament, but was forced to default for the rest of the competition because of injury.

“He was winning 9-3 in his first round match and tweaked his shoulder,” Whalen saaid. “I could see he wasn’t himself, and I just didn’t think it was worth the risk.”

Mike Ciritto ’05 (184 lb) also defaulted his tournament matches as the result of a shoulder injury.

Scott Moskowitz ’05 (149lb) and Captain Justin Sullivan ’03 (HWT) both made it to the quarter-finals, with Moskowitz coming back from a first period 5-0 deficit in his first match.

“Two of [Moskowitz’s] losses were to the kid from Simpson, who is one of the best in the country,” Whalen said. “2-2 is pretty solid, and 149 is a tough weight class.”

Moskowitz, who is enjoying a starting spot after a freshman year of sporadic appearances, thinks of the weekend as a confidence booster.

“It’s such a different level out there,” said Moskowitz of the Iowa Conference. “The level of competition was really high. It was an encouraging tournament.”

Competing in their last dual-meet before their Iowa trip, the Ephs defeated Gettysburg College last Wednesday.

“It was good to get a win going into this weekend,” said Whalen.

Ciritto led off the match for the Ephs with a first period pin, setting a tone for the meeting that would culminate in a 30-15 Williams victory.

“Ciritto’s been wrestling well this year – really smart,” said Moskowitz, who lost a major decision in his match. Madden also pinned his opponent, coming back from a first period deficit with a third period fall.

“The last period he got a little sloppy on top and I was able to put him on his back,” Madden said.

Sullivan dominated his undersized opponent, resulting in a third period disqualification victory for stalling. James Sheehan ’06 (165 lb) and Whyte both won minor decisions.

“Madden’s pin really put us over the top. It gave us a lot of momentum,” Whalen said. “It’s nice for a freshman to come up with a big pin at home.”

Aware that Gettysburg would be forfeiting his weight class, Prairie took the night off, and Ari Crystal ’05 took his place next to the referee.

“I’m resting up for a big weekend in Iowa,” said Prairie, whose first-round injury at the Simpson tournament came as a disappointment.

“The team started to come together tonight with all of the freshman showing how they’ve adapted to the college style,” said Danhof, who suffered a last minute 2-1 loss as the result of a third period Gettysburg reversal. “They really pulled it together and stepped it up on the mat.”