Defending NEWA Champs Have Solid Veteran Group Heading into New Regional Championship Format for 2012-13

Returning a pair of New England titlists and a pair of conference runner-ups from its 2011-12 NEWA champion squad, Wesleyan has a talented crew to address the new challenge of a Northeast Regional post-season tournament in 2012-13.  Rather than the usual 14 New England based squads in an NCAA-qualifying format for individuals, the qualifying tournament for NCAA participation has broadened to include Owsego, Oneonta, Cortland and Ithaca with the 14 NEWA squads.  As a result, the top three finishers in each weight class at the Northeast Regional automatically qualify for the NCAAs.

Taking seventh place at the NCAAs in 2012 at 184 pounds, NEWA champ Jeferson Ajayi '13 will be looking to continue his success.  He begins the 2012-13 season ranked #1 in Division III, helping Wesleyan achieve a preseason ranking of 20th nationally.  Also back as a New England champion is Kyle Roosa '13, as he took the NEWA crown at 174 pounds in both 2012 and 2011.  Qualifying at-large for the NCAAs in 2012 after placing second at 133 pounds is Joey Schwartz '14 while team co-captain Howard Tobochnik '13 (bottom photo) was the NEWA runner-up at 149 pounds.

In total, Wesleyan returns six all-NEWA performers from last season with Ryan Splendorio '15 taking fifth at 165 pounds and team co-captain Nick Scotto '13 (top photo) securing sixth at 141 pounds.  With these six, a number of solid returning lettermen, including Alex Cannon '14 (149), Austin Frank '15 (285), Jacob Sheffer '14 (285) and Maika Nagata '13 (133), and the addition of 10 newcomers, half of them in the upper two weight classes, the Cardinals will give a good accounting of themselves in 2012-13.  Almost all of the freshmen placed in a state or regional tournamernt during their high-school years.

Wesleyan begins the year, as usual, in the very competitive Doug Parker Invitational at Springfield Sat., Nov. 17.  The first semester also includes a trip to RIT for its Invitational Sat., Dec. 1, followed by a tri-match at home Sat., Dec. 8 with Wilkes, ranked 13th nationally in the preseason, and RIC coming to Middletown.