Jefferson Ajayi '13 (photo), making his first trip to the NCAA Division III Tournament after capturing a New England Wrestling Association title at 184 pounds, was victorious in three of his five matches during the Championships at Wisconsin-La Crosse Fri.-Sat., March 9-10. As a result Ajayi took All-America laurels as he took seventh place. The top eight finishers are deemed All-Americans.
Ajayi opened with a tough 6-4 loss in overtime to unseeded Tim Stewart of Messiah. Stewart had upset the #7 seed his opening match. In the consolations, Ajayi again found himself in overtime, tied 1-1 vs. unseeded Erik Schott of USMMA. This time, Ajayi got the takedown in overtime to secure a 3-1 triumph. He then advanced to the final eight when his next opponent had to forfeit due to injury. Next up for Ajayi was a battle with the #3 seed, Dylan Azinger of Wartburg. Azinger prevailed, 13-3, and went on to pace fourth. Ajayi then battled Greg Rhodes of Wabash, who had defeated Azinger, 4-3, in an earlier round, for seventh place. Ajayi got a take down in both the first and second periods, along with a second-period escape, to capture a 5-3 win.
Three other Cardinals attended Nationals as Joey Schwartz '14, who was chosen off the alternate list at 133 pounds, went 2-2, winning his opening match with a third-period pin before suffering a first-period fall in his second match. He then defeated 2011 All-American Tom Mirocha of Wartburg, 17-12, before losing to Dan Herr of TCNJ, 8-1. Kyle Roosa '13, making his second trip to the NCAAs behind his second straight NEWA title at 174 pounds, dropped both his matches, 14-4 and 8-5. At 197 pounds, NEWA champ Luke Erickson was pinned in the first round of his opener, then lost a tight 3-2 decision which knocked him from the field.
The four NCAA qualifiers matched the most for the Cardinals, equaling the 1981-82 squad which had four attendees, one of whom returned an All-American. Wesleyan fashioned an 11-6 dual-match record in 2011-12 and finished first in the NEWA Championships. Ajayi led the team with his 13-4 dual-match mark and a 24-6 overall record heading into Nationals and became just the fifth Cardinal to become a Division III All-American in wrestling. He is the first since Hugo Smith took eighth place at 177 pounds in 1996.
As a team, Wesleyan picked up 11.5 point during Nationals to tie for 29th place among 62 attending teams. Wesleyan also ranked 29th nationally in the final dual-meet poll and fourth nationally for team GPA with a lofty 3.44 mark.
On May 5, the wrestling team held its annual banquet and the 2011-12 highlight video, courtesy of Nick Treuer '14 and Richard Leuchter '12, made its debut. To watch the outstanding production, please click < here >.