Two Ephs wrestle in their 1st national torunament

Ethan Cohen ’09 and Dylan Rittenburg ’10 traveled to the great state of Iowa last weekend to compete in the NCAA tournament held in Cedar Rapids. The trip marked both Eph wrestlers’ first experience at the national tournament. Cohen was eliminated from the tournament with two consecutive losses, while Rittenburg notched two wins before falling short of All-American consideration.

Cohen began the tournament against third seeded Jake Oster in the 125-lb. weight class. Despite wrestling well, Cohen lost his opening contest by technical fault. The Eph then moved to the tournament’s consolation bracket where he fell to Heidelburg’s Jerrad Hoxie. “I think Ethan wrestled great, he just ran into two really tough kids right out of the gate,” Rittenburg said. “But, he learned a lot from the experience and I bet that he will go out next year and have a big tournament.”

Rittenburg also competed against the third seed in the 141-lb. weight class after receiving a bye in the first round of competition. The Eph wrestled well against Matt Kelly of Wartburg, but was defeated 10-2 to also move to the consolation bracket. Here Rittenburg was ready to prove his ability to compete at the national level, and in the next match, he topped sixth seeded wrestler Nicholas Sanchez.

In one of the most tiring and competitive matches of his wrestling career, Rittenburg and Sanchez’ match escalated into two overtimes. While still in regulation, Rittenburg was down 10-6, but was able to close the gap late in the third period. A scoreless first overtime put the match into double OT in which Rittenburg was able to escape his opponent’s hold and win the contest 13-11. “The competition was on a different level out there and I came in giving these guys too much credit,” Rittenburg said. “But after getting a win under my belt I realized that I could run with them.”

Staying alive in the tournament, Rittenburg next faced off against Luther’s Travis Grawin later on Saturday. Grawin, the eighth seed and two time All-American wrestler, proved his experience as a competitor. Despite Rittenburg’s small lead throughout the match, he could not hold on. In the final minute, Grawin pinned Rittenburg, ending his run in the tournament and his season.

“I’m happy with the win that I got under my belt at this level, but I fell short of my goal of becoming an All-American,” Rittenburg said. “It was tough losing that tight match, but it will be great motivation for next season.”

Despite failing to reach their goals of All-American honors, both Cohen and Rittenburg will take away valuable experiences which they hope to utilize in next year’s NCAAs. “Now that I’ve seen the highest level of competition I know how to train better for it,” Rittenburg said. “Those guys aren’t just names on paper now. I really know how to go into this tournament next year.”