Ephs flex muscle at Budd Whitehill

Wrestling (1-3) put together a strong performance at the Budd Whitehill Duals at Lycoming last weekend despite forfeiting three weight classes in its matches on Day One. The Ephs went 1-3 on the weekend, taking each of their opponents to tight matches.

Williams entered the duals fresh off a second-place finish at the Williams Invitational on Jan. 7. Springfield took the invite with a score of 125, while the men turned in a team score of 86 points.

Williams opened competition after break with a 25-20 comeback victory over Simpson on Jan. 6. Before the break, Williams fell to Oneonta State, WPI and Johnson and Wales in its first home match of the season on Dec. 10.

The men entered each of their Day One matches at the Budd Whitehill Duals with forfeits in the 125 lb., 157 lb. and 165 lb. weight classes, putting them down 18 points before their day even began. The Ephs powered through to earn a split on Day One of the dual.

“It’s almost impossible to win after going down three forfeits,” Head Coach Rich Hasenfus said. “We had to go into it focusing on individual matches. You can’t get down about the forfeits, and we competed and wrestled very well.”

The men’s first opponent on Saturday was SUNY-Cortland, the tournament’s No. 1 seed. Tom Foote ’13 claimed a 4-2 victory in his match, and Kaison Tanabe ’13 nabbed an 8-6 victory. However, the Ephs could not conquer the top-ranked squad and ultimately fell 37-9.

The men’s second opponent on Day One was SUNY-Oswego. Once again entering the match down 18 points, the Ephs had an uphill battle. Dan Kurnick ’15, Carson Brooks ’14 and Mir Henglin ’13 led the charge, each pinning their opponents. The fate of the match rested on Foote, who was competing at the 285 lb. weight class. The junior did not disappoint, scoring a 6-2 victory and his second win of the day to knot the score at 24-24, leading the match to be decided on criteria. The Ephs ultimately beat the Dragons on the strength of their three pins.

“The pins fired the team up,” Hasenfus said. “Tom finished it out for us. Tom’s been in that position before where the dual is on the line. We’re very confident going to the last match with Tom.”

Day Two proved challenging for the Ephs, as they dropped both of their matches. The men first faced Wabash, the tournament’s six seed. While the men forfeited three weight classes, they also managed to pull out four victories over Wabash. Foote claimed a 5-1 win, Tanabe took a 2-1 decision, co-captain Ces Antista ’13 downed his opponent 6-1 and co-captain Nikola Mirkovic ’12 won his heavyweight match 7-2. Despite these victories, Wabash took the match 31-12. Williams then drew TCNJ and managed to post 16 points. Antista won a major decision in the 141 lb. weight class, Brooks took an 11-5 victory at 149 lbs., Mirkovic earned a 3-0 win in the 197 lb. weight class and the Ephs earned points off a forfeit in the heavyweight match. However, TCNJ still took a 33-15 victory, and Williams closed out the Whitehill Duals with a 1-3 record.

“We wrestled some of the top programs in the country,” Hasenfus said. “We had some exciting matches, and I’m excited about our individual performances. Our guys are making improvements, and [each] is raising [his] level. That’s what it’s going to take for us to win.”

On Jan. 7, the men hosted the Williams Invitational, coming in second to Springfield on the day. Tanabe put in a heroic effort to take the 133 lb. weight class over Springfield’s Derek Adams. Tanabe claimed a 7-5 decision in overtime to win his weight. The heavyweights turned in impressive performances, with Mirkovic and Foote dominating their weights. Williams ultimately turned in 86 points to Springfield’s 125.

Williams topped Simpson by a 25-20 margin on Jan. 6. Tanabe, Antista, Scott Sanderson ’13, Kyle Gaffney ’15, Mirkovic and Foote all earned victories. Mirkovic won his match in overtime, while Gaffney and Foote both pinned their opponents in less than two minutes.

Before the break, Williams lost three matches in an early-season home meet on Dec. 10. WPI topped the men 23-18, Johnson and Wales earned a 30-13 victory and Oneonta State won 23-15.

Williams will next head to Springfield for the NEWA Duals on Jan. 22. Matches will start at 10 a.m.

“Our team is in great shape,” Hasenfus said. “We’re improving as our conditioning improves, and we normally hit our stride around the second or third week of January.”