In the Cardinals' first ever venture to the National Wrestling Coaches Association National DIII National Duals, Wesleyan has been assured of a top half finish among the 16 teams involved, including each of the teams ranked among the top 10 nationally. All Wesleyan did, seeded 15th in the event as the 30th-ranked team nationally, on the opening day was upset 7th-ranked Olivet, 20-17, and follow it up with a 22-17 conquering of #9 Ithaca. Wesleyan began the competition with a hard-fought 28-10 loss to #2 Elmhurst, which went on to defeat #10 Wisconsin-Whitewater by a similar margin, 26-9, in the next round for a spot in the national semifinals.
With its two wins, Wesleyan has reached the consolation semifinals and will finish in a spot between five and eight in the final tournament rankings. Wesleyan has a match Sun., Jan. 13 against Johnson & Wales, unranked but also 2-1 with wins over #16 Dubuque and #4 Augsburg. Springfield, the third New England squad in the field, also registered an upset as the #26 Pride defeated #13 Luther before being knocked out by Wisconsin-La Crosse. La Crosse or Coe will be Wesleyan's final opponent in either the match for fifth place or for seventh place on Sunday.
Most impressive at the Duals has been 149-pounder Toward Tobochnik '13 (main photo). The lone Cardinal to go 3-0 on opening day, Tobochnik posted a major decision against his Elmhurst rival, then conquered his Olivet foe, who was ranked seventh nationally, 9-3. He ended with a much needed 7-6 win against Ithaca. Both with 2-1 marks, heavyweight Austin Frank '15 (photo insert lower left) and 197-pounder Josh Roometua '16 (photo insert upper left) came through in the clutch against Ithaca. Trailing 17-6 heading into the final three matches, Wesleyan could not afford a loss and needed more than just three decisions to come away a winner. Jefferson Ajayi '13 started it off with a first-period pin, making the score 17-12. Roometua added a major decision to get Wesleyan within a point at 17-16. As a result, the match was left in the hands of the heavyweights. Frank got an early takedown, rode his opponent for more than a minute before securing a clinching pin in just 1:28.
The Olivet match was equally tight as each squad produced five victories. Wesleyan got the three-point win because James Hamilton '16 came up with a second-period pin at 125 pounds and Kyle Roosa '13 had a technical fall at 174 pounds. Wesleyan did have one setback by technical fall in the match, so Hamilton's additional three points provided the margin of victory.
Wesleyan had three wins vs. Elmhurst as Taran Carr '16 at 165 pounds and Frank both had decisions to go along with Tobichnik's major decision. Nick Scotto '13, at 141 pounds, lost his bout by a slim 2-1 score against an opponent ranked sixth nationally. Scotto was good for a decision vs. both Olivet and Ithaca.