Wrestling clinches top spot at NEWAs

Wrestling (19-4-1) added several more titles to an already record-setting season this weekend at the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Championships at Springfield. The men captured the top spot out of a field of 15 teams from around New England. Two wrestlers, Corey Paulish ’11 (141) and Ryan Malo ’11 (197), took home the title in their respective weight classes and earned automatic bids to the NCAA championships.

The team entered the tournament with a lot of momentum and confidence though it ranked second in the region behind Johnson and Wales. The men also had to look out for defending champions from Rhode Island College, who always make their presence felt in this tournament.

The tournament consisted of 10 weight classes, each comprised of 16 individuals from around the conference. Team totals were then calculated based on the results of the individuals representing their teams over the two days. After eight rounds and two full days of hard work, the men finished with a tally of 136.5 points, an astonishing 30 points ahead of JWU and 40.5 points ahead of the defending champs RIC.

“This season, our guys bought into what we preached as far as the secret to success being hard work and discipline,” co-Head Coach Dan DiCenzo said. “Our guys were willing to put in the hard work to get the results they wanted, which is not always the case in sports these days. We also have to give credit to our great leadership from our seniors and captains. We knew that we had a lot of talent coming into this year, and it really showed this past weekend.”

Six other Ephs earned All-New England honors by finishing in the top six in their weight class. Co-captains Kyle Ayer ’09 (184) and Ethan Cohen ’09 (125) fought hard all weekend to earn silver medals. Also making the podium in the third spot were Dylan Rittenburg ’10 (149), Carl Breitenstein ’10 (157) and Jon Foster ’11 (165). Josh Mattana ’11 rounded out the group by taking home the sixth spot in the 133 lb. weight class.

“Our schedule this year was the strongest it has ever been, and our guys have had the chance to wrestle against some of the best guys in the nation. It proved worth it this weekend as the guys hung tough,” DiCenzo said. “Ethan Cohen lost a really tough match to Dan Bloom of Wesleyan in the finals. These two men have gone back and forth their entire careers and today it happened to be Dan’s day. Kyle Ayer should also be very proud of what he did. He took down the third-ranked kid in the nation in one of his matches. Breitenstein also deserves to be recognized for his season. He faced the toughest weight class in the tournament and had done so all season.”

In addition to the numerous titles that the team collected on the mat, they were awarded the Highest Team GPA award, evidencing their work ethic off the wrestling mats. In addition, co-Head Coaches DiCenzo and Rafael Vega earned the Coaches of the Year accolade, as the other coaches in the region recognized the dedication and inspiration they have offered their wrestlers throughout this incredible season.

Looking back on the achievements of his team, DiCenzo was proud but also disappointed in the lack of recognition from other coaches around the region. “Carl was selected as the first alternate to go to nationals,” DiCenzo said. “He deserved more. A lot of the guys on our team deserved more. I think our guys would have been the best to represent the conference and the region at nationals, but the other coaches did not see it.”

Although the team is done for the year, Malo, Paulish and possibly Breitenstein and Ayer will head to nationals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on March 6 to showcase their skills and represent the College in front of the entire nation.