Wrestling battles to 4th at Budd Whitehill

After claiming major wins against York and Messiah on Friday, wrestling grappled to fourth at the 23rd Annual Budd Whitehill Dual Wrestling Championships on Saturday. Coming off a second-place finish at the Scott Viera Invitational on Jan. 8, the men encountered strong opponents in Ohio Northern and SUNY-Cortland on their way to a fourth place finish at the Budd Whitehill Duals. The men had previously wrestled in the Scott Viera Invitational on Jan. 8 and taken on the men from Midlands on Dec. 28, Wilkes on Dec. 27 and Oneonta on Dec. 11.

Through the leadership of its captains, Williams was able to put up a tough fight at the Budd Whitehill duals. Tri-captain Josh Mattana ’11 won all four of his matches in the competition at the 125 lb. weight class, squeezing past Jerry Pasqual of Ohio Northern in a 3-2 decision and defeating Sean Kampf of SUNY-Cortland in a 7-6 decision.

After sitting out the Scott Viera Invitational due to injury, Corey Paulish ’11 proved that he had returned to top form on Saturday. Though Paulish defeated Kenneth Hoopes from Ohio Northern in a 7-1 decision in a match that gave Williams its fourth decision and an early lead, pins by Ohio Northern in the next four weight classes proved to be too much for the team to handle.

Tri-captain and NEWA wrestler of the week Ryan Malo ’11 wrestled in the 197 lb. weight class, pinning Matt Alexander of Ohio Northern in 4:49 in an attempt to put the Ephs back on top. Malo then edged past SUNY-Cortland’s Carl Korpi in a 3-0 decision. Malo attributed his success to his attention to technique. “I’ve improved a lot of technical things this season. I’m learning how to get on my feet and work in neutral,” he said.

The final bout of the Williams-Ohio Northern match featured heavyweight Tom Foote ’13 gaining a 15-5 decision against Justin Southwick, but Foote’s points were insufficient to earn the Ephs a victory: They fell 24-23.

After losing to the powerful squad from Ohio Northern, Williams competed against third-ranked SUNY-Cortland, seeking to earn third place in the tournament. Following its 33-6 loss against SUNY-Cortland, Williams fell to fourth place in the tournament, an impressive finish after entering the tournament unseeded.

The Ephs remained positive after their fourth-place finish. “The big goal at the end is a national championship, and every match is a step closer to that,” Malo said.

The men defeated Messiah in their first match at the Budd Whitehill Duals on Friday, grinding to a narrow 22-18 victory. Williams trailed Messiah 18-15 before heavyweight duelers Malo and Foote took down their competitors and gave the Ephs the victory.

The Ephs then met with York in their final match of the day. The men emerged victorious, defeating the Spartans by a margin of 28-10. The captains led the way with Malo pinning Kyle Minogue (6:38) and Paulish grappling to a 12-0 major decision over Dan Miller.

An injured Williams squad also competed in the Scott Viera Invitational on Jan. 8 at Roger Williams. “It was a tough day for us because we didn’t have the entire squad,” Malo said. The Ephs competed well despite their injuries, finishing second in the tournament with 110 points. Springfield took first place, banking 139.5 points.

Mattana set the tempo for the Ephs, winning the competitive 125 lb. weight class in a final over Plymouth State’s Joshua Huber. Mattana was named the Lightweight Outstanding Wrestler for his exceptional performance.

Strong performances from Kaison Tanabe ’13 and Carson Brooks ’14 supported the Ephs’ effort, as they finished first and second, respectively, wrestling out of the 133 lb. weight class. “We’ve got a young team right now and it’s great for our program,” Malo said. “It’s great to see the younger guys learning from the older guys.”

Tanabe gained steam after a close 5-4 win over Jordan Stepanchick of Elizabethtown in his first match. Tanabe was able to parlay his early success into an amazingly quick 19-second pin in his next match and a decisive 13-4 victory over Zac Ziboro of American International in the third round. This led to a matchup against his teammate Brooks. Brooks had worked past the first three rounds with relative ease, but Tanabe was able to fend him off in a 6-0 decision.

Kyle Martin ’12 was able to gain three pins on the day wrestling out of the 165 lb. weight class. Martin pinned opponents at 4:22, 4:37 and 1:42 and was one win short of placing in the tournament, finishing with a 3-2 record.

Malo was the sole Eph who competed in the exclusive Midlands Invitational on Dec. 28 at Northwestern, a showcase of some of the top wrestling talent across all divisions in the nation. Malo went 2-1 in the tournament, defeating his opponent from Stanford but losing to wrestlers from strong Div. I programs at Bucknell and Northwestern.

A heavily injured Williams team traveled to the unscored Wilkes Open on Dec. 27. Only five grapplers were healthy enough to compete due to nagging injuries, and only Mattana—who placed fourth in the 125 lb. weight class—managed to place.

The men also stumbled at the Oneonta Quads on Dec. 11, finishing the meet with a 1-2 record. Williams opened by disposing of WPI 33-9, but proceeded to drop two close matches against Johnson & Wales (19-16) and Oneonta State (21-17).

Williams will host the wrestlers from Springfield on Wednesday before competing in the dual meets at Bridgewater State on Saturday and the duals at the College of New Jersey on Jan. 29.