PROVIDENCE, RI – The Williams College wrestling team competed in the second day of the NCAA DIII Regionals hosted at the Johnson and Wales University. After a strong day of competition yesterday, the Ephs still had 80% of their representatives actively competing in the tournament. Three of those wrestlers were in contention for the championship as action kicked off at 9:00 am.
The Ephs grueling regular season schedule have led them to this point in the postseason. Head Coach Scott Honecker was pleased with how his team wrestled on day one, but put all focus on the team's ability to finish it out. The collective team's efforts earned them 6th at the NCAA Northeast Regionals.
At 125 pounds, first year David Yeh remained alive in the consolation bracket after a 2-1 record yesterday sent him to the third round of the runner up bracket. Yeh was unable to overcome a Western New England opponent and was defeated in his first match of the day. He returned for the 7th place match against Nicholas Camacho of Castleton University. After facing off in the home dual a few weeks ago, Yeh repeated his success with a 4-0 decision victory to seize 7th place and end his first Eph season on a strong note. Coach Honecker had this to say about Yeh's turnout this season: "David Yeh came in unseeded and upset two seeded wrestlers to finish 7th. This kid is on the rise. The adjustments he made this year have resulted in a lot of success, and he's only getting better."
Senior Ben Morton showed his grit at 133 pounds yesterday with a strong decision victory in the second round of consolation. A great four years of wrestling for the starting senior came to a close in the 7th place match today. Morton was edged out, but will leave the program having been an excellent competitor and teammate. His efforts this postseason earned him 8th at regionals.
The 141 pound weight class was one of the three where Ephs had remained undefeated yesterday. Sophomore Joey Rossetti entered today with a secured spot in the semifinals. Rossetti was just barely edged out in a 7-5 decision loss to a NYU adversary. Despite the disappointment, Joey was not ready to be counted out. He fired back in the consolation semifinals with a dominant 46 second pin to propel him into the third place match. For third place, Rosetti squared off against Ryan Peters of Springfield College. A very one-sided battle ended with Joey six points up at 11-5. His efforts gave him a third-place finish and a spot in the NCAA Championships.
Coach Honecker was thrilled with his work: "Joey is wrestling well. He avenged a loss from first semester to punch his ticket so he's demonstrating his gains. We have two weeks to take his peak higher as he hunts for all American honors."
At 157 pounds, senior Brendon Seyfried had led the day as the only senior to remain undefeated on Saturday. Seyfried's leadership on and off the mat has been a source of strength for the whole wrestling program. Unfortunately, he was felled in his semifinal matchup by a Worcester Polytechnic Institute representative. Seyfried returned in the consolation bracket semifinal and fought well against a Johnson and Wales University opponent, but was just beaten out with a 5-4 decision loss. A strong effort in the fifth place match ended Seyfried's fourth year as an Eph wrestler and ensured he captured 6th place.
Junior Yo Akiyama remained active in the consolation bracket at 165 pounds yesterday after a grueling OT match came down to riding time and was decided in his opponent's favor. Akiyama showed his determination today in his final match of the season against Juan Vernaza of Southern Maine University. Yo again forced the match to overtime, but ultimately lost a tiebreaker which would have allowed him to continue.
The leading first year Nasir Grissom at 174 pounds was the last Eph to remain undefeated in yesterday's competition. In an unfortunate continuation of the trend for the day, Nasir was bested in a very close 3-2 decision loss by a Coast Guard Academy opponent. The semifinal defeat would not be Grissom's last chance to compete. He returned in the consolation semifinals against Brett Leonard of Roger Williams University. A strong 12-8 decision victory earned him a spot in the third-place match. Grissom faced off against Malik Settles of New England College for third place. He was unable to overcome his opponent, but managed to secure 4th place in just his first year on the team. Coach Honecker singled out the first year's campaign: "Nasir wrestled great this weekend. He has come so far this year and his best wrestling is ahead of him. Although it was disappointing to lose in the pivotal match, I am super excited to see what he does going forward."
At 197 pounds, Senior Sebastian Dziadkiewicz anchored the team and the senior class. After moving up and down weight classes the past few seasons and overcoming injury, Dziadkiewicz left it all out on the mat in his final post season. His first match of the day was consolation round against Brandon Cousino of Southern Maine University. Sebastian downed his opponent with a decisive 6-3 decision victory. This would be his final success of his Williams career as he was just edged out in the following two matches. A well fought tournament gave Dziadkiewicz 8th at 197 pounds.
A schedule constructed around preparing the team for an always competitive postseason meant Williams Wrestling was able to find considerable success at Regionals. Coach Honecker made a point of addressing his seniors contributions to the program: "Brendon, Ben and Sebastian all end their careers as regional medalists. Along with Bennett and Alex, their career achievements are too many to touch on here. \Their greatest impact on the program, more than the wins and losses, is the way they taught us how much a group that really cares about each other can elevate one another. This will be their lasting legacy. The program needs to follow their lead in this regard for years to come."
Senior night in Lasell Gymnasium, before the Castleton University Dual, honored the graduating seniors. Regardless, Ben Morton, Brendon Seyfried, Sebastian Dziadkiewicz, Bennet Caplin, and Alex Pankhurst leave large shoes to fill for the rising senior class. All indications show the five current juniors are surely up to the task.