WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – Rich Hasenfus' Williams wrestling team will head to the campus of Wesleyan University this weekend to compete in the New England Wrestling Association Championships, which will determine the region's individual competitors at the NCAA Championships in March.
Competition begins on Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 AM and concludes on Sunday evening with the winners of each weight classification earning an automatic bid to the NCAAs. The region also has four at-large berths in the NCAA Championships. At the conclusion of the championships the coaches will gather and vote on which four wrestlers in the tournament will be awarded an at-large berth in the 2012 NCAA Championships.
The NCAA Division III Championships will be held this year at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in La Crosse, Wisconsin on March 9 and 10.
Two Eph juniors competing this weekend earned a spot in the 2011 NCAA Championship based on their season last year and their performance at the NEWAs. Ces Antista won the NEWA 141 title last winter and heavyweight Tom Foote finished second and was awarded an at-large berth.
Both Antista and Foote are ranked regionally with Antista first and Foote second, as well as being ranked nationally – Antista 9th, Foote 10th.
Five of Hasenfus' Ephs will enter the NEWAs ranked in the region. In the final poll of the region's top wrestlers Ces Antista, a captain, ranks first at 141 pounds. This season Antista has compiled a record of 19-3 with 2 pins.
Tom Foote finished second in the heavyweight division at NEWAs last year and was awarded an NCAA at-large opportunity. Foote, a three-year letterman in wrestling and football, has been ranked as high as first in the region during the season. To date Foote owns a glittering 25-2 record with a team leading 9 pins.
Junior Kaison Tanabe is currently ranked fourth at 133 pounds. Tanabe's season record stands at 14-6 with 1 pin.
Senior captain Nikola Mirkovic dropped this year from the heavyweight classification to the 197-pound class and is currently ranked 7th. Mirkovic, a captain and a four-year letterman in both wrestling and football, has a 2011-12 record of 12-5 with 1 pin.
Rapidly improving first year Kyle Gaffney broke into the regional rankings in the final poll and is ranked 8th at 165. Gaffney has compiled a record of 16-10 in his first season of intercollegiate wrestling and is second on the team with 7 pins.
"The past two weeks have been good for us," stated Hasenfus. "We have been able to focus on technique and get our guys healthy. Our health has been good so we were able to get some solid live workouts in this week. We are in great shape and are physically and mentally ready to compete. I am excited for the guys. They have worked hard all year. It's there time to shine!"