Wrestling qualifies three for Nationals

Jorge Lopez ’16 captured first in the Regional tournament at Wesleyan last Saturday.
Jorge Lopez ’16 captured first in the Regional tournament at Wesleyan last Saturday.

Last Saturday, wrestling traveled to Wesleyan for the NCAA Div. III Northeast Regionals. This year, the NCAA experimented with a new format: six regionals were held across the country with the top three wrestlers from each of the ten weight classes qualifying for nationals. In the past, the regional tournament was confined to the 14 members of the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA). This year, however, four new teams were added to the mix: Ithaca, SUNY Cortland, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Oswego. Williams finished the weekend fifth overall and third amongst NEWA teams as five wrestlers placed and two qualified for nationals, Jorge Lopez ’16 and Chris Chorzepa ’17. SUNY Cortland won the regional.

After two days of wrestling, Lopez was the last man standing in the 157 lb. weight class. Lopez steamrolled the competition, pinning his first three opponents after 1:54, 1:19 and 2:31, respectively. The third pin came against returning NCAA Div. III champion Devin Biscaha of Springfield in the semifinal match. In the championship match, Kevin Collins of Ithaca, Lopez’s opponent, avoided being pinned, but Lopez ruthlessly disposed of him in a 6-0 decision. With his first-place finish, Lopez secured 22 points for the Ephs and a second straight trip to nationals for himself. Lopez placed sixth in the 149 lb. class last year. “There’s no limit to what he can do, especially after pinning the reigning national champion in a tidy 2:31,” Head Coach Scott Honecker said.

The other Eph who qualified for nationals was Chris Chorzepa ’17 with a third place finish at 184. Like Lopez, Chorzepa pinned his first two opponents. In the semifinal match, however, he came up against a very strong opponent from Roger Williams and succumbed by decision 11-6. Chorzepa then rebounded from the setback, pinning his opponent in the consolation semifinals after just 1:27. The win put him in the third-place match with a chance at nationals still within reach. Chorzepa convincingly beat Michael Case of Springfield by a 5-0 decision to qualify for his first nationals. “[Chorzepa] looked awesome this weekend,” Honecker said. “He needs to understand that he is two matches away from All-American and he has the talent to do it.” Chorzepa’s third-place finish earned the Ephs 18 team points.

The three other Ephs who placed over the weekend were Daniel Seidita ’16, who finished sixth at 125, Timothy Garripoli ’16, who finished fifth at 149, and Anthony Brooks ’16, who finished sixth at 197. Garripoli won his first match through a pin, but then lost his quarterfinal match in a tight decision. Garripoli showed a lot of grit, rebounding to win his next two matches by scores of 16-7 and 11-5, respectively. The two wins gave him an outside shot at nationals, but he unfortunately lost in the consolation semifinals by decision. The loss put Garripoli in the fifth-place match, where he defeated Eamonn Gaffney of Ithaca in an extremely close bout to earn his first-ever placement in a regional tournament and 12 points for the Ephs.

Though Seidita lost his first round match to Jonathan Murray of Rhode Island College, he rebounded to win his next two consolation matches and earn a rematch against Murray in the consolation semifinals with a chance at a nationals berth still possible. Although he wrestled better in the rematch, Seidita again fell to Murray. He lost the fifth-place match as well. Seidita’s sixth-place finished earned the Ephs 7.5 points.  “[Seidita] wrestled out of his shoes this weekend,” Honecker said.

Anthony Brooks came into the tournament unseeded, but he proved a lot of people wrong with his performances throughout the weekend. Anthony Brooks won his opening match, a rematch with Chad Obzud of Oneonta that propelled him into the quarterfinals. Just like Garripoli, Anthony Brooks lost in the quarterfinals but rebounded to win his next two consolation matches. In the consolation semifinals, Anthony Brooks came up just short, falling 6-2 in a well-fought match. Anthony Brooks faced Obzud for the third time this season in the fifth-place match but Obzud got the better of him. Anthony Brooks’ sixth-place finish and his combination of brawn and brain earned him scholar All-American and seven points for the Ephs.

Five other grapplers competed at the tournament. Daniel Evangelakos ’15 at 133 and Carson Brooks ’14 at 141 both went 1-2. Martin Strenk ’17 at 174 recorded two pins but lost his other two matches. Ben Wertz ’17 at 285 went 1-2 at the tournament, and Kyle Gaffney ’15 at 165 went 0-2

It was a very successful tournament for the Ephs as their 78.5 points placed them fifth at the tournament and third in New England. The future is bright for the men as all five Ephs who placed were underclassmen. Seven of the 10 total Eph wrestlers were also underclassmen. Lopez and Chorzepa will continue their training in preparation for nationals at Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from March 14 to 15.