Wrestling opens winter season

Wrestling opened its season this past weekend at the Ursinus Fall Brawl in New Jersey with four Ephs placing in the top four in their respective weight classes. Rookie Ryan Malo ’12 had a strong collegiate debut and won his weight class at 184 lbs., while co-captain Ethan Cohen ’09 took second at 125, Corey Paulish ’11 placed third at 141 and Carl Breitenstein ’10 fought hard to capture fourth place at 157.

The tournament was somewhat unusual in that only individual results were kept, and there was no team score. This format made it easier for the first-years to wrestle in their first collegiate matches and for the upperclassmen to shake off the rust collected over eight months without competition.

Malo began his wrestling career at Williams in the biggest way possible. He won his first two matches to advance to the finals by pinning both of his opponents in less than five minutes. He then faced a scrappy Ursinus wrestler, Nate Murren, in the championship match but was able to come out on top in points (3-2).

Cohen, the defending NEWA champion at 125, started off the season much as he expected with two quick pins in the first two rounds and a 7-1 decision in the third. However, Cohen met his match in the finals in Rob Miller from Thiel College, who came into the match ranked sixth nationally. Cohen fought hard throughout the entire contest but left the mat with only the silver medal.

Paulish, last season’s NEWA Rookie Wrestler of the Year, took a much more difficult route to the medal podium. This was Paulish’s first competitive collegiate match at 141, as he had wrestled all last year a weight class lower at 133. He fell in the first round by a close decision to the eventual champion Anthony Rizzolo from the College of New Jersey and entered the consolation bracket. He then battled through five matches that all went to decision by points, ultimately winning the consolation bracket and earning the bronze.

Breitenstein wrestled extremely well throughout the day. He won his first and second matches handily, before falling by a close margin (4-3) in the third round. He rebounded quickly by pinning his first opponent in the consolation bracket in a speedy 1:39. His next match extended into an overtime period; however, Breitenstein was on the losing end and had to settle for a well-deserved fourth place finish.

The rest of the Ephs performed admirably in their first event of the season. Josh Mattana ’11 went 2-2 and co-captain Mike Penza ’09 went 1-2 at 133. Co-captain Dylan Rittenburg ’10, a returning NCAA qualifier, fought hard all day at 149 in an extremely tough weight class with three other NCAA qualifiers from last season, but lost in the third round in a grueling match. James McCarthy ’11 also came out strong, reaching the semifinals before falling in a tie-break and eventually defaulting to a sixth place finish for medical reasons.

“Overall the tournament was a great start to our season,” said Co-Head Coach Dan DiCenzo. “We knew we would be behind all of the other teams in terms of match experience with this being our first competition. Coach Vega and I were very pleased with our team’s results because we have only been practicing for two weeks, and we wrestled at a high level against good competition over the weekend.”

The men look to take this past weekend’s experience with them as they travel to Springfield College this Saturday to compete in the Doug Parker Tournament and hopefully improve upon their preseason ranking of 15th in the nation.