SPRINGFIELD, MA – The Williams College wrestling team entered the final stretch of their 2019-2020 season today. A strong final couple matches from the top performers of this year's Eph wrestling program set the stage for the two weeks which end in DIII Northeastern Regionals.
Consistent practice week in and out, and a few key wins in matches along the way, meant much of the team would be competing at the Regionals tournament in two weeks' time. The sole representative for Williams Wrestling at the NEWA Futures tournament was first year 174 pounder Dante Gutbrod.
The Futures tournament is designed to give up and coming underclassmen a chance to face off against one another to gain key experience to setup a strong career at the collegiate level. This year the tournament was hosted by Western New England University. The event kicked off at 10:00 am with a championship bracket featuring single elimination and a wrestle back bracket which ensures competitors who lose one match can go on to earn a shot at third place.
Gutbrod has earned more than a few victories in his first year with the Ephs. Two of which were sub three minute pins over Hunter College opponents at the beginning of the calendar year. A tough field meant Gutbrod was unseeded entering the tournament. He posted a strong effort over the course of his three matches to end 2-1 on the day and complete his season with a 2nd place finish at the competitive Futures tournament.
To start the 174-pound bracket, Gutbrod took on sophomore Armani Dotson out of Roger Williams University. Dante took over early and managed to pin Dotson in the first period with a time of 1:23. His success to start pushed Gutbroad to the quarterfinals where he was pitted against fellow Roger Williams University Hawk in Leonard Breit. He continued his trend for the day with another pin which took just over a minute longer than the first, at 2:35. The consecutive pins earned Gutbrod an assured medal and put him in the hunt for a championship finish. His last match of the day put him up against an experienced collegiate wrestler in the junior Ryan Gray from Springfield College. Dante kept the scoring low and stayed within striking distance of his opponent, but unfortunately Gray came out on top to take the first place finish.
As a first year in the mix, Gutbroad was one of the youngest guys in the bracket. He applied himself admirably to earn a second-place position amongst a strong field of competitors.
Eph head coach Scott Honecker was impressed with Gutbrod's performance at the 2020 Futures tournament: "Dante wrestled great and we also saw some things that we can build on going forward. It was good for him to get experience wrestling in the final and this was his second college tournament placement this season. The future is bright for Dante!"
With Eph representation wrapped up at the Futures tournament, the Williams wrestling program is entering their last week of assured practice. The culminating post season stretch begins on leap day at 9:00 am. Captains Yo Akiyama and Joey Rossetti will be seeded highest and look to lead the team with their performances. Not far behind is the 125 standout David Yeh who will enter looking to get back to the dominating trend which has characterized much of his sophomore season.
With the top three competitors from each weight category moving on to the national level, the Ephs chance to compete further into the post season will be decided by how they compete on February 29th.