Last December, the Elizabethtown College wrestling team found out they were chosen to host the 2015 NCAA Division III National Championships. The honor of hosting the Championships comes with high expectations. In five of the last six national championships, the Blue Jays have had a presence.
Head Coach Eric Walker, now in his 12th season leading the Blue Jays, will look to continue the progress made during last season. The Blue Jays finished 3-9 in dual matches. This year’s squad bolsters 26 wrestlers, with returners looking to lead the way for the newcomers who hope to make an impact.
Etown opened its season up on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Messiah College Invitational, the first step on their journey to Hershey at season’s end. The Blue Jays sent two wrestlers to the semifinals as senior Zeke Zimmer and first-year Philip Torresani both advanced in their respective weight classes.
Zimmer, who has over 50 career victories, claimed two victories to reach the final four at 174 pounds. Zimmer had a first round bye and went on to defeat Wheaton College’s Tad Haugen with a 12-2 major decision and a 19-4 technical fall of University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s Brandon Buckingham. Zimmer fell in the semifinals to Washington & Jefferson College’s Sonnieboy Blanco, 11-5. He would then go on to lose to the third-place finisher, Wheaton’s Frank Aiello, by a fall at 5:27 of the third period.
Torresani began his collegiate career winning two of his four matches. His two losses were decided by two points or less. Torresani defeated Messiah’s Marshall Myers 7-5 in his first match before beating Ursinus College’s Austin Petril 6-5 to advance to the semifinals. In the semis, Torresani would lose 4-2 and faced Liberty University’s Carlos Fuentez in the consolation semifinals. He was edged out by Fuentez 8-7.
Junior John Archangelo took just 25 seconds to pin Wheaton’s Tom Foy in the first round wrestle backs at 125 pounds. Fellow junior Tim Miranda pinned Maryland-Baltimore County’s Devaughn Jones in his consolation match.
Sophomore Branden Virgilio pinned McDaniel College’s Liam St. John at 141 pounds in 4:08 of their first round match. Virgilio then went on to face defending national champion Kaleb Loht of Messiah. Loht got the better of Virgilio in the match.
Junior Chad Lammer experienced a setback during the second round to Wheaton’s Gage Burton, but Lammer went on to win four matches at 141 pounds. His four wins were highlighted by a 14-1 victory over St. John College and a pin of Messiah’s Jared Furry in 2:41 to reach the consolation semifinals.
Juniors Rafi Sayada (165) and Buck Kauffman (184), first-years Chris Kummer (149) and Quinn Ruble (174) all recorded pins on Saturday. The Blue Jays will participate in the Ursinus Fall Brawl this Saturday, Nov. 1.