Wrestling traveled to Wesleyan last weekend to compete in the NEWA Championships.
The team came in ninth overall with 44 points, while Wesleyan took home the title with 126 points. Two Ephs earned bids to the Div. III NCAA tournament, which will be held at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.
At 133 lbs., Kaison Tanabe ’13 had an impressive day. In his opening match, Tanabe pinned his opponent in one minute. Tanabe went on to take a 6-3 decision in the second round over Brian Cole of the University of Southern Maine. In the semifinal match, Tanabe fell in a major decision of 11-2 to Joe Grippi of Springfield, who would go on to clinch the championship. Tanabe stumbled in his first consolation match, losing a 7-5 decision before going on to face Cole again. The Eph again triumphed over Cole, taking a 5-2 decision to earn fifth in the 133-lb. weight class.
Co-captain Ces Antista ’13 had a strong showing at 141 lbs. Although Antista stumbled in the first round, losing a 4-3 decision to Joe Ortiz of Springfield, he bounced back in his first consolation match, grabbing a 10-2 major decision. Antista then went on to take his next three matches, with scores of 7-3, 8-2 and 7-2, respectively, before making it to the semifinal, where he once again faced Ortiz. This time, the outcome was drastically different, with Antista earning a pin-fall victory in 41 seconds to make it to the final. In the final, Antista overcame his opponent in a 10-3 decision to earn the championship title and a bid to NCAAs.
The men stumbled in the next few weight classes. Carson Brooks ’14 lost a 13-5 major decision in the opening round of the 149-lb. weight class before being knocked out of the competition in the second round of the consolation bracket by a 1:42 pin from his opponent. Scott Sanderson ’13, competing in the 157-lb. weight class, fell by pin in 4:23 in the first round. He also saw his tournament run end in the consolation bracket following a 2:35 pin by his opponent. Kyle Gaffney ’15 had a similar competition at 165, dropping his first round match in a 1:12 pin and then getting pinned in four minutes in the consolation bracket to conclude his competition.
Wrestling at 174 lbs., Mir Henglin ’13 was pinned in 3:35 in the opening round. After receiving a bye for the first consolation round, Henglin lost a 9-4 decision in the consolation round. Dan Kurnick ’15 was also pinned in his first round match at 184 lbs. In the second round of the consolation tournament, Kurnick was pinned in 1:15, a loss which knocked him out of the competition.
Co-captain Nikola Mirkovic ’12, wrestling at 197 lbs., took a 4-0 decision in the first round before falling 4-3 in the second. He then won an 11-6 decision in the consolation bracket before a pin in 6:45 stopped his run.
Tom Foote ’13 had a successful tournament in the 285-lb. weight class. In the first round, Foote took an 11-3 major decision over his opponent. His triumph continued in the second when he beat out his opponent in a 3-1 decision. Foote bested his opponent in the third round, winning a 5-3 decision before falling in the fourth round in a 4-2 decision to Patrick Walsh of Bridgewater State. Foote fought his way back, taking his next match in a 9-3 decision before facing Walsh for the second time. Walsh won again in a 3-0 decision; however, Foote earned second for his efforts and was named a wild card addition to the upcoming NCAA tournament.
Anista said he knows there is still a lot of work to be done on the part of both him and his teammates, despite the successes of the weekend. “These next two weeks are critical,” he said. “While most other winter athletes are able to relax, this is when Tom and I have to kick it up a notch. These next two weeks are when All-Americans are separated from the pack.”
The team was also recognized for having the highest team GPA in the NEWA. Head Coach Rich Hasenfus was also recognized last weekend, as he was inducted into the NEWA Hall of Fame. In his career, Hasenfus has coached four All-Americans, 24 Scholar All-Americans, 12 New England Champions and 69 NEWA Conference placers.
Foote and Antista are the only wrestlers who will compete again this season. These Ephs will next wrestle at Div. III NCAAs, which will be held March 9-10 at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse.