Wrestling optimistic about NCAA return

Last season, Head Wrestling Coach Scott Honecker hoped his team would get healthy enough to make some post-season noise, and they did. Honecker took just two wrestlers to the NCAA Div. III Championships, where the Ephs came home with two All-Americans, two third-place finishes, and a team finish of 13th in a field of 65 teams. This year, Honecker has high expectations with a roster that is one of the largest, deepest and most talented that wrestling has ever had.

The Ephs are ranked a program-best 10th in the National Wrestling Coaches Association pre-season national poll. Only three teams from the Northeast are ranked in the top 15 and only one New England team: Ithaca (8), Williams (10) and The College of New Jersey (15).

Last season, the third place finishes by Jorge Lopez ’16 at 157 and Chris Chorzepa ’17 at 184 marked only the third time in Eph wrestling history that Williams had recorded two All-American finishes in the same year.

Lopez, who also earned All-American honors in 2013, is bidding to become just the fourth Eph to earn All-America honors for a third time in a career. He posted a 31-3 record last season.

Chorzepa, who really did not start competing until over a month into last season, became the second Eph wrestler to earn All-American recognition in his rookie season. He went 19-5 in his debut campaign.

Lopez was named the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Wrestler of the Year in 2014 and Chorzepa was awarded the NEWA Rookie of the Year.

Both Lopez and Chorzepa will be marked men this winter as they will open the season ranked second nationally in their respective weight classes.

Thinking that the men are primarily a two-man team is a huge mistake. The Eph squad is experienced and competitive in all 10 of the weight classes.

In 19 dual matches last season, the Ephs compiled a record of 11-8 without having many matches where they were able to trot out their best lineup due to various injuries. Williams finished fifth at the Northeast NCAA Regionals in 2014, and this winter they will look to finish higher.

Four returners, all of whom were accorded NEWA Honorable Mention honors last season, will join All-Americans Lopez and Chorzepa in the lineup. Tim Garripoli ’16 claimed fifth last season at 149, while Dan Seidita ’15 finished sixth at 125. Anthony Brooks ’16 at 197 was also sixth and Dan Eveangelakos ’15 finished strong as well. In addition to the above NEWA honors, Garripoli finished fifth at the NCAA Northeast Regional, while Seidita and Brooks both finished in sixth place.

Martin Strenk ’17, who compiled a 24-13 record at 174 and was named to the NEWA All-Rookie team, also returns, as does Ben Wertz ’17 who wrestled in 36 matches as a heavyweight.

Honecker also welcomes a first-year class of six, increasing his roster to 19 members.

“Our expectations are high for the season,” co-captain Kyle Gaffney ’15 said. “We are focused on improving every day and being process oriented. Our team goal is to win New England’s.”

The men will open this season on Saturday when they travel to Trinity for a noon match.

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