Men’s wrestling sweeps tri-meet to cap season

Defeating Plymouth State and Southern Maine at a tri-meet in Milford, Conn., wrestling finished its regular season Thursday with a 13-12 record after learning that their 22-19 loss to Johnson and Whales earlier in the season had been overturned because one of the competitors was ineligable.

“It was good for the team to get those two wins on Thursday,” said tri-captain Gus Whyte ’04 (174lb), who went 2-0 at the meet. “Being 13-12 this year is a big improvement over last year, and it really shows how hard this team has worked to get to where we are. We expect to do very well this weekend at New Englands’.”

With their only loss coming from a forfeit at the 197lb weight class, the Ephs plowed through Southern Maine to a 42-6 victory. Whyte had the only pin of the match, and Chris Damsgaard ’06 (157lb), James Sheehan ’06 (165lb) and Mike Cirrito ’05 (184lb) all earned major decisions. Tri-captain Charles Danhof ’03 (133lb) and Ben Haldeman ’05 (141lb) won minor decisions, and Ari Crystal ’05 (125lb), Scott Moskowitz ’05 (149lb) and tri-captain Justin Sullivan ’04 (HWT) received forfeits.

Plymouth State offered only slightly more resistance, racking up just eleven points in their 31-11 dual-meet loss to the Ephs. Sheehan and Whyte each pinned their opponents, and Cirrito earned a major decision. Danhof, Moskowitz and Sullivan also won their matches.

“Winning the last two matches of the season is a big boost going into New Englands,” Danhof said. “Especially because it boosted our record above 500.”

Competing in their last home match of the season, the wrestling team went 1-2 in a tri-meet with Western New England College, Wesleyan and Oneonta on Feb. 8, defeating the first and falling to the latter two.

“We wrestled tough, but just came up a little short in the end,” Danhof said, who earned two pins and a forfeit in the last home match of his career. “A lot of guys wrestled great matches and lost.”

Whyte also went 3-0 on the day, with overtime wins against Wesleyan and Oneonta. Sheehan had a big overtime win over his New England-ranked Wesleyan opponent, and Cirrito upset Oneonta’s nationally ranked Nick Castellano in a close match.

“We’re close. Oneonta’s nationally ranked and we nearly beat them,” said Head Coach Michael Whalen. “We just can’t get over the hump.”

Traveling to New York City over Dead Week, the team took on Hunter College, the College of New Jersey, and Montclair State as part of the New England – New York Metro Duals. The Ephs went 1-2 in the effort with their lone win coming against host Hunter College. Trailing 17-9 after six matches, the Ephs rebounded in the upper weights, juggling wrestlers between weight-classes and finishing with a 23-17 win.

Going into the final match with a three point lead, victory had seemed all but sealed with New England-ranked Sullivan nursing a 3-0 advantage into the third period. With less than two minutes remaining, Sullivan received an inadvertent eye-gouge from his opponent, slitting his eyelid and causing profuse bleeding.

“It took us about 20 minutes to get the bleeding under control so he could finish,” Whalen said. “Sully just gutted it out with one eye to win 4-2 and give us the match.”

The College of New Jersey and Montclair State, both nationally ranked, each won decisive victories.

“The College of New Jersey is just at a whole other level than we are,” commented Whalen. “You know you are up against it when you face a team that has seven of their ten wrestlers ranked nationally.”

Coming off a disappointing 13th place finish in at the NECCWA duals in late January, Williams defeated Springfield College by the sixth criteria of tie breaking procedures in a 19-19 dual meet on Jan. 29. This win marks the Ephs’ first victory over Springfield in college history.

“Wow,” Whalen said. “I’ve waited a long time for this. I never beat them as a wrestler and I never beat them as a coach. Everyone really stepped it up tonight.”

Down 19-16 going into the final match, Williams looked to Cirrito to seal a come-back victory over the nationally ranked squad. Despite a battered shoulder, the sophomore veteran rose to the occasion, defeating his opponent 4-3 and earning three points for his team. Although Cirrito’s victory only tied the match, Williams had more near falls during the competition (11-3), giving them the tie-break victory.

“I knew I had to win, and I’m glad I was able to come through,” Cirrito said.

Danhof had the only pin of the contest, sticking his opponent with an arm bar/figure four combination. Prairie came back from giving-up second period back points to earn a major decision with a seven-point move in the last half minute of the match.

“Prairie hit a ‘flying Hawaiian’ in the last minute, giving him a major decision,” said Danhof. “That’s one more team point.”

Sheehan and Tim Madden ’06 (141lb) both gutted out tough matches. Sheehan came back from an early deficit to earn an 11-9 overtime victory, and Madden kept his 2002 national champion opponent to a major decision. Sullivan also won his match.

“Sheehan showing a lot of heart, Danhof coming up with a big pin, Madden going toe-to-toe with a national champ, all these things contributed to our victory,” said Whalen. “Even the guys that lost kept it close.”

The team will travel to Roger Williams this weekend of the NECCWA Championships.