Wrestling (19-4-1) closed out its incredible, record-setting season on the backs of two of its stars this weekend. Ryan Malo ’11 and Corey Paulish ’11 competed in the NCAA wrestling championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Malo lost in an incredible championship match to Jared Massey of Augsburg, and Paulish finished fourth after losing to top-seed Austin Bautista of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Malo entered the tournament as the fourth seed in the 197 lb. weight class. He opened the competition by facing Brian Scher of Hunter, who had handed Malo his only loss of the season at the NEWA/Metro Duals in January. Malo exacted sweet revenge as he handily dispatched his opponent with a score of 7-0. He then won his next bout against Corbin Semple of Waynesburg by a comfortable margin of 9-4. These victories placed Malo in the semifinals against eighth-seed Andy Moore of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Malo again made easy work of his opponent, recording a pin in 2:13 and earning a hard-fought ticket to the national finals. Unfortunately, Malo found himself on the losing end of a match for only the second time this season and fell 10-3 to Massey.
“Nationals in Iowa was a great experience, for both myself and Corey,” Malo said. “I think the most important thing to remember is that although Corey and I were the only Williams wrestlers participating, we represented the hard work, discipline and accountability that our entire team exhibited throughout the year. I am most proud of the fact that Williams, as a team, won the NEWA championship and finished 10th in the nation at Nationals. That says a lot about the way [co-Head] Coach [Rafael] Vega and [co-Head] Coach [Dan] DiCenzo prepared us throughout the season.”
Malo’s impressive season earned him All-American status. He also led the entire nation in pins and matched the highest national finish ever for an Eph.
Paulish came into the championships unseeded as an underdog in the 141 lb. weight class. However, he wrestled hard all weekend, defeating third-seed Luke Baum of RIT in the first round and sixth-seed Chase Decleene from Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the second. In the semifinal match, Paulish fell by a narrow 6-4 margin to the second-seeded Zach McKray of Wartburg. He then manhandled Baum again in the consolation bracket, earning 12 points in the match. In the match for third place, Paulish faced first-seed Bautista. The match went to sudden victory, but Bautista proved just a bit too much for the Eph wrestler.
Paulish earned Scholar All-American honors by virtue of his success on the mat and his 3.78 cumulative GPA in the classroom. He also finished the year at 40-9, setting the College’s record for most wins in a single season.
“What was impressive to me was how well our kids performed on the national stage for not having been here before,” DiCenzo said. “You have to be ready for every one of your matches here because they are all of All-American quality. Ryan and Corey were focused each time they stepped on the mat.”
Thanks to the incredible finishes of these two men, the team closed out its thrilling season in 10th place at Nationals out of 60 teams. Preparation has already begun for next season, and the Ephs are ready to go.
“As far as next season is concerned, preparation has already begun,” Malo said. “I feel as a team we will be even stronger next year. From a personal standpoint, I know the specific areas I need to focus on, and I know I will only continue to improve with help from both the coaches and the guys on the team. We as a team are very happy with our success this year, but we are not satisfied and realize the potential we have for further accomplishments.”