Grapplers stumble in three matches heading to postseason

Wrestling ended its dual meet season this weekend, hosting Oswego State and Southern Maine on Sunday. The men fell to Oswego State 24-15 and were defeated by Southern Maine 46-8. On Saturday, No. 11 Springfield overcame the men in a decisive 48-6 victory.

In Sunday’s match against Oswego State, co-captain Ces Antista ’13 wrestled at 141 and claimed a tight 5-3 victory over his opponent. After being down with a minute left, Antista earned 1:10 of riding time to give him the victory. The win gave Antista – who is ranked No. 9 nationally and No. 1 in New England – a 19-3 match record on the season. Carson Brooks ’14 also faced a close match at 149 but succumbed to his opponent 2-1 in overtime. Co-captain Nikola Mirkovic ’12 earned a major decision over his Oswego State opponent in the 197 lb. weight class, sweeping his match 10-2. Tom Foote ’13, wrestling at 285, earned a 9-4 victory over his opponent. However, the men were unable to overcome Oswego State, falling 24-15 in the match.

The men also hosted Southern Maine on Sunday. They were unable to enter wrestlers in four weight classes: 125 lb., 141 lb., 174 lb. and 197 lb. As a result, the Ephs were not competitive in the meet, but they still turned out some strong individual performances. Kyle Gaffney ’15 earned a technical fall in the third period of his match at 165, taking the match 17-1 and giving the Ephs their first points of the competition. “Kyle works hard every week and you can see the results on the mat,” Antista said. “Kyle went out there confident and got the job done.”

Foote was also victorious in the 285 lb. weight class, topping his opponent 10-4. Despite these efforts, the men were unable to overcome the forfeits and fell to Southern Maine in a disappointing 46-8 loss.

“Obviously, forteiting four weight classes is terrible,” Antista said. “Unfortunately, we had a few of us that have some nagging injuries that need to be addressed before New Englands in two weeks. We would have liked to win the dual against Southern Maine, but New Englands is what really matters.”

Against Springfield on Saturday, the men rested Antista and Mirkovic. Therefore, the Ephs forfeited in the 125 lb. weight class and two additional weight classes, which severely hindered their competitiveness in the meet.

The Pride came out strong, defeating every Eph wrestler except for Foote in the heavyweight class. Foote, who entered the match ranked No. 2 in New England, battled John Gabordi of Springfield, who entered the match ranked No. 3 regionally. Despite the strength of his opponent, Foote pinned Gabordi in 4:53, single-handedly earning all six of the Ephs’ points on the day. The men fell to Springfield by a final score of 48-6.

Foote was named NEWA Wrestler of the Week for his performance this week.

The men will wrestle again in two weeks at the NEWA Championships, which will be held at Wesleyan on Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.

Antista is optimistic heading into the postseason. “This is crunch time,” he said. “I think everyone is just excited and ready to show what they can do.”