PROVIDENCE, RI – The Williams College wrestling team traveled back to Johnson and Wales University this Saturday to take part in the 2019 NCAA DIII Northeast Regionals held there. After a successful outing at the NEWA Futures tournament last weekend, the Ephs were looking to take another step forward in their postseason.
Held simultaneously across the country, the DIII Regionals allow wrestlers to compete against the best in the weight class for their region and the chance to move on to the next level. The tournaments are occurring in Rhode Island, Iowa, Indiana, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All tournaments take place over the course of February 22nd through February 24th.
Action kicked off today at 9:00 am and featured Eph representatives from all ten weight classes.
At 125 pounds, first year David Yeh stepped up for the Ephs. His first year as a part of Williams wrestling has been a strong one and Yeh looked to continue in the postseason. To start off on the right foot, Yeh defeated a Springfield opponent with a 6-2 decision victory. The win propelled him to the quarterfinals, where Yeh fell to a home representative in a close match. He returned strong in the consolation bracket with a 2:35 pin to keep his tournament chances alive. Yeh's 2-1 record on the day will keep him in contention for a top three finish tomorrow.
Senior Ben Morton competed at 133 pounds for Williams wrestling. A strong three years of representation has led Morton to his final post season for the Ephs. He started his tournament off with an impressive OT win over a Rhode Island College opponent. Unfortunately, he was overcome in his second match, again by a Johnson and Wales University opponent. Morton did not let adversity keep him down for long. He recorded a decisive 10-6 decision victory in his first consolation match to stay alive for Sunday.
At 141 pounds, sophomore Joey Rossetti was one of the stars of the day. His first match of the day pitted him against a Norwich University opponent. Rossetti got the ball rolling with a 12-2 major decision victory. His second match was also the quarterfinals of the weight class. Rossetti showed up again with a 6-0 decision and a victory over Austin Shorey of Southern Maine University. He finished the day 2-0 with an assured position in tomorrow's semifinals.
The 149 pound wrestler for Williams was senior Alex Pankhurst. A strong season for Pankhurst has led to this final post season at JWU. Pankhurst was unable to advance in the championship bracket after a close defeat in the first round. He returned in consolation with a dominant 1:46 pin over Matthew McGowan from the Coast Guard Academy. The pin was the height of Pankhurst's day, as he was unable to advance any further in the tournament.
At 157 pounds, was senior Brendon Seyfried.. His final postseason started off on a very strong footing as he captured two straight wins to remain in the running for a first-place finish. His first match against a Plymouth State opponent resulted in a Tech Fall victory for Seyfried. He followed that success with a 3-1 decision victory over Dylan Dwyer of NYU in the quarter finals. As one of the few to go undefeated on the day, and the only senior, Seyfried is leading the postseason charge for Williams wrestling.
Junior Yo Akiyama was Williams wrestling's choice for 165 pounds. Akiyama's season began with an ankle injury but has improved drastically since his return to competition. In his first match, he earned a Tech Fall over Cameron Smith of Norwich University. Akiyama advanced to the quarterfinals, but was just barely edged out by an NYU opponent. The match came down to riding time which his adversary had just barely more than a minute of to gain the decisive point. A 1-1 record on the day means that Akiyama still has a good shot at a top place finish tomorrow.
174 pounds featured first year Nasir Grissom for Williams. Like Rossetti and Seyfried, Grissom led the day with a 2-0 record which leaves him in contention for the championship spot in his weight division. Grissom's first victory was a nail biting 3-2 decision victory over a Wesleyan University representative. He advanced to the quarterfinals with the victory to face off against Izaake Zuckerman of NYU. Grissom improved on his success with a more decisive 12-6 decision victory. Tomorrow's semifinals will be his next opportunity to continue.
Junior Luke Anselmi took up the 184 pound mantle for the Ephs. Anselmi has not typically wrestled at 184 but stepped up for the Ephs when he was needed. His first match ended in a close loss to a Western New England University opponent. Unfortunately, his second match ended any shot of advancing further. Regardless, it was a strong effort for a wrestler stepping up into a higher weight class for the team.
At 197 pounds, senior Sebastian Dziadkiewicz competed in his final Williams wrestling postseason. After battling injury earlier this season, Dziadkiewicz put on a strong showing in his first match. He managed a 10-6 decision victory over Anthony Malfitano of Roger Williams University. The victory pushed him to the quarter finals where Sebastian was bested by his opponent. His 1-1 record for today means his chances for further advancement are still very much alive.
Senior Bennet Caplin stepped up for his final post season for the Ephs in the heavyweight division. After losing their only heavyweight late last season, Caplin has taken up the difficult role of Williams wrestling heavyweight. As a result, Bennet often wrestles competitors well above his own weight. His first match in the championship bracket regrettably ended in a loss. However, overcoming significant adversity, Caplin recorded an impressive OT victory in his first round of consolation bouts. A small group of competitors at heavyweight means Caplin's tournament ended prior to Sunday.
A strong showing of ability and grit leaves eight of the ten Eph representatives alive for Sunday's continuation of competition. Of those eight, three remained undefeated and will compete for first in tomorrow's action.
Eph head coach Scott Honecker was pleased with today's performance but wants to keep focus on the wrestling still to come: "We have achieved our goal of wrestling our best all year at the regional tournament. Now we must show up tomorrow and collect on all of our hard work." He did single the efforts of two of his seniors, which has been apparent all year long: "It was also bittersweet as Alex Pankhurst and Bennett Caplin's careers came to an end today. They both won and scored points for their team as seniors at the regional tournament. They leave the program a better one than they found it and we all owe them a debt of gratitude."
The Ephs begin wrestling at 9:00 am tomorrow with their eyes on the prize.