This season, wrestling will look to improve on last season’s fourth-place finish at the NEWA tournament and 23rd place finish at the Div. III National Championship. Last winter, four Ephs earned bids to the Div. III National Championship: Tom Foote ’13, co-captain Ces Antista ’13, Ryan Malo ’11 and Corey Paulish ’11. Malo was the highest placing Eph in the tournament, earning a fourth-place finish.
The men lost six seniors to graduation, including Malo, the second Eph wrestler to earn All-American honors three times, and Corey Paulish, a four-time All-New England selection and the winningest grappler in Williams history. “They were a group of guys that had been the core of our success for a long time,” co-captain Nikola Mirkovic ’12 said. “We need to find the people that are going to step up and provide the leadership they provided last year.”
“This year the squad is going to be young,” Antista said. “Almost half of our team graduated last year, leaving us with a group of younger, less experienced wrestlers. I’m looking forward to seeing how the young guys will respond when faced with adversity and what individuals set up as leaders of this team.”
To make up for this deficit, the Ephs are adding four rookies to the roster: Dan Evangelakos ’15, Kyle Gaffney ’15, Dan Kurnick ’15 and Adam Datema ’15. “We are looking forward to starting up and getting our freshmen in matches,” Head Coach Rich Hasenfus said. “We want to bring them up to speed in terms of the adjustment period to college wrestling.”
“We don’t have that many guys on the team right now, so we are definitely going to throw them into the lineup immediately and see what they can do,” Mirkovic said. “It’s sort of the downside of wrestling that people do get hurt and problems do come up, but I don’t foresee our small numbers to be a massive problem.”
“I think both being a little young and staying healthy will be our biggest challenges this season,” Hasenfus said. “We have some solid guys on the team, but we just have to stay healthy.”
“The team needs to keep the intensity and confidence high, as well as have faith in their ability to not only win matches, but also dominate their opponents,” Antista said.
The team will compete this weekend at the Doug Parker Invitational at Springfield. “Based on our performance there, everyone will have a better idea of where they are at and what areas they need to improve,” Antista said.