After Third-Place NEWA Finish in 2009-10, Cardinals Looking to Keep up the Pace in 2010-11
Coming off a banner year in 2009-10, finishing third in the New England Championships, nationally ranked the entire season and having two NCAA qualifiers in Dan Bloom '10 and Greg Hurd '10 (both two-time NCAA qualifiers in 2009 & 2010), Wesleyan graduated a strong group of seniors, but in the latest pre-season coaches poll, the Cardinals are ranked fourth in the 14-team New England Wrestling Conference (NEWA). This exemplifies the talent the program has as the 2010-11 season is set to unfold. The team is led by returning New England placers in tri-captain Luke Erickson '12 (bottom photo, third at 197 in 2010), Dan Conroy '11 (photo upper right, third at heavyweight in 2009) and Howard Tobochnik '13 (fifth at 141 in 2010), but there are many other competitors on the team who have had significant experience the past couple of years and could have break-out seasons this year.
Tri-Captain Chris Alvanos '11 (photo upper left) and Nick Matayoshi '11 are looking to fire up the 125-pound class with the departure of Dan Bloom, who is now the head assistant coach with the team. Alvanos has been a two-year starter at 133, but will now be at his natural weight class as a senior. Alvanos has a great opportunity to vie for a New England title this season, but also look for Matayoshi to be right there with Alvanos for the starting spot. Joey Schwartz '14 is going to be an exciting competitor to see at 125 and 133 as well. Kyle Roosa '13, at 174, is ready to be a conference force after a 20-8 record freshman year following right behind his predecessor Greg Hurd. Roosa is currently ranked sixth in the pre-season poll.
Maika Nagata '13, at 133, placed in two early season tournaments including a fourth place finish at the RIT Invitational as a freshman and competed in the New England Championships, just missing all-New England honors last season. Nagata is currently ranked fourth in the pre-season poll. Nick Scotto '13 represented the team at 149 last season at New Englands, but will be competing at his natural weight class of 141 this season after a winning freshman season at 10-9. Newcomer Greg Faxon '14 is coming off a national prep placing and is working hard to compete at this weight along with Bryant Jiravisitcul '11, who has stepped up his training and skills to compete for the starting spot. Tobochnik is looking to start at 149 to see how he competes up a weight class to start the season. He is coming off a 22-win freshman campaign along with his 5th-place showing at NEWA. He is currently ranked fourth in the pre-season poll.
Jefferson Ajayi '13 (state qualifier from Ohio) is back to solidify the squad at 184 after finishing his freshman year 10-5. Ajayi competed with the best wrestlers all season long and is certainly looking to make an impact this year along with Marty Buxton '12 and Sam Weiner '12. Ajayi stands seventh in the pre-season poll. Gideon Levy '13 also has the potential to make a big difference this season as he looks to compete with Roosa at 174. Erickson, ranked second at 197, along with Dave Amhrein '12, who has performed very well in his first two seasons, are joined by Bryan Bryne '13, who closes out the fall football season. At heavyweight, returning conference placer Conroy looks to have a greater performance than he did in 2009, when he placed third in NEWA, and newcomer Jacob Sheffer '14, who is a three-time sectional qualifier in Illinois, will be pushing the pace. The middle weights are open for a number of wrestlers to step up and claim the weight class. Look for Tom Oddo '12 and Ahmad Ismail '12 to get after it along with top freshmen Troy Sampson '14, Nick Treuer '14 and Alex Cannon '14. Depth is strong at most weights and a solid incoming class will help to rebuild after the loss of four seniors with 20+ wins, helping Wesleyan compete for its ninth winning season in the past 11 years along with a top-three finish or better at the New England Championships.
Wesleyan will compete in its usual compliment of two tournaments -- the Doug Parker at Springfield Nov. 20 and the R.I.T. Invitational Dec. 4 -- before embarking on its inaugural dual match Sat., Dec. 11, hosting Messiah.