Ephs wrestle to first 20-win season

Wrestling (20-3) continued its dominance over its opponents this past weekend with the team’s triple victory over Wesleyan, Oneonta State and Lycoming. The wins marked the Ephs’ 18th, 19th, and 20th wins of the year, giving them the first 20-win season in College history.

Williams began the day with a victory over conference rival Wesleyan. Tom Foote ’13 set the tone for the Ephs in the first match of the day, defeating the Cardinals’ Dan Conroy, who finished last season in third place in the conference. The men went on to win six of the remaining eight matches, including four consecutive victories by Ces Antista ’13, Corey Paulish ’11, co-captain Dylan Rittenburg ’10 and co-captain Carl Breitenstein ’10. Jon Foster ’11 fell to Josh Berkovic in a tough match, while teammate Josh Mattana ’11 lost a heartbreaking match in sudden victory overtime. “Josh wrestled well today,” Head Coach Dan DiCenzo observed. “A few changes in the next two weeks will put him in a better situation to beat a strong wrestler like Bloom at the conference tournament.”

George Sullivan ’11 defeated national qualifier Greg Hurd of the Cardinals in his match-up this weekend. “George has all of the tools and is really doing a nice job [and] getting better every day,” DiCenzo said. Ryan Malo ’11 closed out the meet for the Ephs, pinning Dave Amrhein to extend his personal winning record to 33.

The Williams grapplers went on to beat Lycoming in a similar fashion, with each of the team’s first five wrestlers winning their respective matches. Mattana, Antista, Rittenburg, Breitenstein and Paulish all contributed with strong wins, with Paulish decisively beating Lycoming’s Isaiah Britton, who was 22-3 for the season coming into the match. “Lycoming has a great program and great tradition,” DiCenzo said. “This was a nice win for our program. Our team wrestled very well and showed great focus and determination.”

The men closed out the day with a 33-9 defeat of Oneonta State. Antista, Breitenstein and Malo led the way for the Ephs, each pinning their respective opponents. Nikola Mirkovic ’12 contributed a strong victory in the 285 lbs. weight class. DiCenzo summarized the day: “We reached our goal for the weekend of getting three wins against strong competition [and] finished the dual meet season 20-3.” He noted that this result on the season indicates the team’s strength. “[This] is the first time in our program’s history we have reached 20 wins, breaking last year’s record of 19,” he said.

This weekend’s victories came a week after defeats of Hunter College, New York University and The College of New Jersey on Jan. 30. Beating TCNJ was a landmark victory for the Ephs; it was the first time the Ephs had defeated the Lions, five-time national champions and the top-ranked team in their conference. Williams also decisively defeated both Hunter and NYU by a wide margin.

Rittenberg is looking forward to finishing out the season strong and capitalizing on the men’s success thus far. “We are excited to try and realize our goal of becoming repeat conference champions and bringing in a core group to the national tournament,” he said. “Our team has a lot of depth and a lot of talented kids who are working hard to accomplish their goals this season.”

The Ephs will look to continue their winning streak at the Junior Varsity New Englands this Sunday at Springfield College. They will also be preparing this week for the Wrestling Association championships, which will be held at Western New England College on Feb. 20.

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