After topping their respective weight classes at NEWA Championships on Feb. 26, Ces Antista ’13 and tri-captain Corey Paulish ’11 accompanied wild card selections Tom Foote ’13 and tri-captain Ryan Malo ’11 to NCAAs at Wisconsin-La Crosse this weekend. The men finished 23rd overall as Wartburg took home its eighth championship title.
Entering the competition as the fourth seed in the 197 lb. weight class, Malo finished the meet in fourth place. The grappler opened Sunday with a match-up against familiar foe Byron Tate of Wartburg. Tate and Malo have gone head-to-head in the NCAA title match the last two years, with Malo losing to Tate in both matches. Tate took his third straight victory over Malo with a 9-4 win, claiming the title after dispatching the Ephs’ final representative in the tournament. Malo then entered the wrestleback bracket, where he defeated Sam Johnson of Dubuque 3-0 to enter the third-place match. After a tight battle with Bill Schindel of Mount Union, Malo ended his collegiate career with a 9-5 loss and a fourth-place finish.
On Saturday, Malo took his opening match over Nathan Schmitz of Concordia by a 7-5 margin. The Eph finished the first day of competition with a slim 6-5 victory in his second match. Malo ends his collegiate career with just five fewer victories than fellow tri-captain Paulish, despite only wrestling for Williams for three years.
“Malo is irreplaceable,” said Head Coach Rich Hasenfus. “He’s one of the top guys the program has ever had. Ryan is always ready to compete and has high goals, high expectations … He’s not the kind of kid who comes along every day.”
After battling injury all season, Antista was eliminated after losing his first two matches of the meet on Saturday. His first match came against the top-ranked wrestler and defending champion in the 141 lb. weight class: Bebeto Yewah of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Yewah prevailed over Antista in an 18-8 victory to hand the Eph his first loss of the day. Antista then took on Kevin Bokoski of Luther, but fell 4-2 and was eliminated.
“For Ces to make it to NCAAs is a testament to how mentally tough he is,” Hasenfus said. “He had a tremendous year, even with his shoulder issue.”
Paulish’s first opponent in the 149 lb. weight class on Saturday was Minga Batsukh of St. John’s, a wrestler who had lost only one match all season. Paulish lost the match, but rebounded to take two straight matches by margins of 10-2 and 17-9. These victories carried Paulish to a faceoff against the seventh seed in the tournament, Jacob Groth of Wartburg. Groth ended the Eph’s championship run and collegiate career with an 11-8 victory. Paulish finishes his career with 129 victories, the highest total in the history of Williams wrestling.
“Corey’s a really dependable wrestler,” Hasenfus said. “When he wrestles, odds are he’s going to win the meet. He’s a good leader with a tremendous work ethic. He gives 100 percent to academics and wrestling. It’s been a pleasure to coach him, and he’ll be successful.”
Foote won his first match of the day with an easy 14-4 defeat of Jeremy Klein of Loras in the heavyweight bracket on Saturday. His second match came against fourth-ranked Brock Glotfelty of McDaniel. Glotfelty relegated Foote to the wrestleback bracket with a decisive 10-4 win. In his first match of the wrestleback, Foote drew Ron Fusco of Springfield, and Fusco pinned Foote in 45 seconds to end his run.
“Tom has the ability to be an All-American next year,” Hasenfus said. “He’s a tremendous talent, and he’ll improve a lot.”
The Ephs graduate five seniors this year: Malo, Paulish, Jon Foster ’11, George Sullivan ’11 and tri-captain Josh Mattana ’11. The men finished the season with a 10-10 record.
“We had a good season,” Hasenfus said, “but we had to sacrifice a bit in terms of numbers. Injuries played a huge role this season and we had to sacrifice wins in duals to get guys ready for NEWAs, but we wrestled really well in NEWAs. And we’re looking forward to improving guys’ performances and having new guys step up.”