Wrestling enters the 2008-09 season with high expectations and the potential to improve on last year’s 11-9 record in dual matches and third place finish at the NEWA Championship. College coaches around the nation have recognized the abilities of this year’s team, awarding the Ephs the No. 15 ranking in the preseason poll, the highest national ranking the team has ever held. Within their highly competitive division, the Ephs hold the top spot in the preseason rankings by a mere point.
“We had a strong season last year and wrestled a highly competitive schedule,” said Co-Head Coach Dan Dicenzo. “We’re excited about the ranking and know we just have to continue to do the things that have made us successful.”
The team will have to put forth a unified effort from top to bottom if it is going to live up to its full potential. At the helm of the team, are Head Coaches DiCenzo and Raf Vega, who have two and four years of experience, respectively, in the position.
Next in command are the team’s four highly skilled and experienced co-captains: Kyle Ayer ’09, Mike Penza ’09, Ethan Cohen ’09 and Dylan Rittenburg ’10. Ayer earned all-NEWA honors last season with a 26-5 record in the 197 lb. weight class. Penza returns for his fourth year on varsity at 132 lbs. and will play a crucial role throughout the season. Cohen will look to defend his NEWA title at 125 lbs. and earn a second consecutive berth to the NCAA championship. Rittenburg, the youngest co-captain, returns as a junior hoping to improve on his runner-up finish at the NEWA Championship from last year and his second round loss in the NCAA championship. He will be moving up a weight class this year to 149 lbs. and is currently ranked sixth in the nation in the preseason polls for this weight class.
In addition to the strong captains, the team is returning two other All-NEWA selections in Corey Paulish ’11 at 141 lbs. and Carl Breitenstein ’10 at 157 lbs. Paulish also earned the honor last year of NEWA Rookie Wrestler of the Year. The rest of the team is composed of experienced, rising sophomores looking to earn their keep, an incoming class of seven first-years, and a talented transfer in Ryan Malo ’11 from Boston University.
The Ephs will open the season at the Ursinus Fall Brawl on Sunday.