Williams sent two wrestlers to the NCAA Div. III tournament last weekend in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It was the first national appearance for Chris Chorzepa ’17 at 149 and the second-straight appearance for Jorge Lopez ’16 at 157. Both Lopez and Chorzepa wrestled extremely well throughout the weekend, and they each finished third in their respective weight classes. The two third-place finishes marked the first time in history that the Ephs sent multiple wrestlers to the podium. Thanks to the heroic efforts of the ultra-talented underclassmen, Williams finished 13th out of 65 teams in the biggest tournament of the season. Wartburg came away with the title for the fourth consecutive year.
Chorzepa became only the second Eph to earn All-American as a rookie (Lopez was the first last year, placing sixth at 149) and he recorded the highest-ever finish by a first-year. According to Head Coach Scott Honecker, Lopez and Chorzepa “have brought Williams back into the national wrestling spotlight.”
Lopez came into the tournament with high expectations and an impressive 27-2 record on the season, which included a victory over last year’s national champion in the 157-lb weight class. Lopez continued his winning ways, taking down
his first opponent 9-3 and following that with a sudden victory in his quarterfinal match. The two victories moved him into the semifinals where he was pitted against the No. 2 ranked Dimitri Boyer of Coe College. Boyer proved a bit too much for Lopez, causing Lopez to fall after 6:51 and keeping him out of the National title match. Lopez’s first loss in months did not deter him and he rebounded by winning his next match by a 5-2 decision. Lopez then pinned Reece Lefever of Wabash after 4:40 to claim the bronze. Honecker called Lopez “a thrill to watch wrestle and a blast to coach,” adding that, “Our guy is far from done.”
In his first match of the tournament, Chorzepa was pitted against David Welch of Roger Williams who previously defeated Chorzepa by decision, 4-1, two weeks earlier in the semifinals of the NCAA Div. III Regionals. Chorzepa exacted revenge, sending Welch packing with a commanding 10-3 victory by decision. Chorzepa then steamrolled his next opponent by a 9-4 decision in the quarterfinal match, automatically earning him All-American. However, like Lopez, Chorzepa also came up just short in the semifinal match, falling to the undefeated and No. 1 ranked Riley Lefever of Wabash. Chorzepa, though, showed the same fighting spirit that he has shown all season, demolishing his consolation opponent in an 11-0 major decision that gave him a shot at third place. In the third-place match, Chorzepa found himself down 10-7 with under one minute left. This scenario brought out the best in Chorzepa, as he
staged a miraculous comeback by racking up four riding-time points to steal the match with an 11-10 decision victory. It was a fitting end to a season of comebacks for Chorzepa, who fought back from an early-season injury. “He’s out there now, wrestling to his full potential and the whole country knows who he is now,” Honecker
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It was a historic weekend for wrestling and one that the team hopes to build on next year with Lopez, Chorzepa and a plethora of other young talented wrestlers. With the conclusion of their season, the Ephs will graduate their lone senior Carson Brooks ’14.