Wesleyan wresting should be the premier winter sports team in 2011-2012. Wesleyan has established itself as one of the premier programs after a banner 16-3-1 campaign. The Cardinals gained a number of outstanding accomplishments last season, including a NEWADuals title, an 11-match win streak and a third-place finish in the New England championships. Now heading into the season, the team is ranked #1 in New England and #28 nationally. With strong wrestlers throughout the lineup, Wesleyan should have no problem holding onto or improving these rankings.
“It would be nice to have a great record this season,” Head Coach Drew Black said. “But that’s not ultimately what matters. Our goal is to win the New England championships on our home floor.”
The Cardinals depth is what will allow them to have a great shot at winning the NEWA championships in 2012, on their home floor no less. Wesleyan returns seven place winners from those championships. Juniors Kyle Ross and Jefferson Ajayi return after being New England champion and runner up in the 174 and 184 pound weight classes. Junior Howard Tobochnik was 5th at NEWAs at 149 pounds, 157-pounder and sophomore Troy Sampson was 6th at the championships and 197-pounder and senior Luke Erickson was 5th at New England’s. Sophomore Joey Schwartz is ranked first in New England in the 133-pound weight class.
The squad began the regular season on November 19 in the annual Doug Parker invitational at Springfield. Wesleyan finished fifth of 15 teams with 67 team points. Both Ajayi and Rossa reached the finals with Rossa dropping an 11-6 title decision. Rossa is seventh in the latest New England rankings. Three other wrestlers reached the consolation semi-finals.
“Our cylinders haven’t been firing all at the same time,” Black stated. “I think we’re beginning put it together however. Our starters are performing at high level.”
After time off for Thanksgiving, Wesleyan returns to the mat on Saturday against Rochester Institute of Technology for its annual invitational.