Wrestling has a lot to live up to this season. The defending New England champions hope to protect their title as well as improve on their 10th place finish at last year’s nationals. The Ephs are currently ranked No. 1 in New England and 14th nationally, and wrestling is the only team from New England to crack the top 25.
Led by co-captains Carl Breitenstein ’10 and Dylan Rittenburg ’10, the Ephs are unafraid of high expectations. Rittenburg, a three-year starter for the Ephs who has 91 career wins, promises that the men “will be very prepared for our first tournament, despite starting weeks behind other teams due to NESCAC regulations.” Head Coach Dan DiCenzo is relying on the pair, as they are “outstanding kids and outstanding wrestlers . . . [The team will be] looking to them for leadership . . . and ownership.”
The team returns what DiCenzo calls a “strong nucleus of upperclassman” led by Breitenstein and Rittenburg, as well as All-Americans Corey Paulish ’11 and Ryan Malo ’11, who will be wrestling at the 149 and 197 weight classes, respectively. According to DiCenzo, Paulish is one of the “most driven” players he has ever coached. “He gets better everyday he’s in the room [while Malo] loves to wrestle and has very high goals for himself,” DiCenzo said. Malo hopes to avenge last year’s loss in the finals at nationals.
Nate Shippee ’10, a two-time Scholar All-American, will compete in the 184 weight class while Josh Mattana’11 will make an impact at 125. Mattana was All-Conference last year at 133 and is dropping down to fill the vacancy left by the Williams career wins record holder, Ethan Cohen ’09. Drew Gatewood ’10 will also contribute at 174.
The 285 weight class has the most competitive spots, and Tim Kiely ’11, Colin Curzi ’12, Nikola Mirkovic ’12, Ken Murgo ’12 and Tom Foote ’13 will be competing for the starting position.
Rookies Ces Antista ’13 and Kaison Tanabe ’13 will be battling to start at 133. Both are strong at that weight class according to DiCenzo and he expects a lot of competition between the two freshmen.
The team will also be looking to Jon Foster ’11, an All-Conference wrestler who finished third in the conference last season, to fill the 165 spot when he returns from studying abroad.
Rittenburg echoes his coach’s optimism on the composition of the team and on the prowess of each wrestler.
“We have a squad full of really hard workers and a lot of talented individuals,” Rittenburg said. “[The community] should expect big things out of Williams wrestling this year.”
The Ephs open their season on Saturday in the first round ofÂ the Doug Parker Tournament at Springfield College.