Wrestling Captures Second-Ever NEWA Championships Title with 3 Individual Winners, 8 All-New England in Total
Led by Kyle Roosa's '13 (photo insert bottom right) second consecutive New England title at 174 pounds, complemented by divisional crowns from Jefferson Ajayi '13 (photo insert lower left) at 184 and Luke Erickson '12 (photo insert lower middle) at 197, Wesleyan collected 126 team points and edged 10-time and defending NEWA champ Springfield by the narrowest of margins (0.5 points) to post its second-ever title following the two-day tournament at Wesleyan Sat.-Sun., Feb. 25-26. Fourteen teams were in attendance at the meet. Having three weight-class winners matches the most ever in championships competition for the Cardinals, who had three titlists during the 1982 tournament as Wesleyan placed second that year. Wesleyan's other team title came in 1984 when the Cardinals defeated second-place Western New England by 12 points.
It came down to the final match for Wesleyan as Roosa had claimed a 13-8 victory in his title bout and Ajayi, who was runner-up a year ago, picked up a vital 3-0 win to secure his crown. Then Erickson, who was seeded fifth but went 3-0 to reach the bracket finals, needed a win to give Wesleyan a narrow team victory. Erickson was rematched with top-seeded Phil Ernst of Roger Williams, whom he beat, 7-4, in a semi-final bout. This time, Erickson got a first-period takedown to carry a 2-0 lead into the third period and after yielding a penalty point, got a late takedown to wrap up the 4-1 triumph.
Wesleyan had five other individuals earn all-New England honors as both Joey Schwartz '14, at 133, and Howard Tobochnik '13, at 149, attained runner-up status. Tobochnik just missed being the Cardinals' fourth titlist as he fell in overtime in the championship match. Ben Schwartz '15, at 125, and Ryan Sblendorio '15, at 165, took fifth place while Nick Scotto '13, at 141, grabbed sixth.
The three Cardinal individual winners advance to the NCAA Division III Championships Fri.-Sat., March 9-10 at the U. of Wisconsin-LaCrosse where they will look to become All-Americans with a top-eight finish in their respective weight class. Roosa is making his second straight trip to Nationals while Ajayi and Erickson are first-timers. Joey Schwartz was chosen to join the other three Cardinal qualifiers off the alternate list, giving Wesleyan four NCAA participants. It is the second time in history Wesleyan has sent four grapplers to Nationals, the first time coming in 1982.
Wesleyan competed the 2011-12 season with a solid 11-6 dual-match record and finished third of 14 teams at the NEWA duals back in January. Head Coach Drew Black was recognized by NEWA as Coach of the Year while Dan Bloom '10, in his second year as an assistant, was named NEWA Assistant Coach of the Year.