It was an eventful two days of competition on Feb. 27-28, as Springfield College hosted the 2016 NCAA Division III Northeast Wrestling Regional Championships in the Springfield College Field House.
Springfield College had three wrestlers in the semifinals on Sunday. Zach Joseph, Tyler Keane, and Jake Benedict all have their eyes set on reaching the national stage for the first time in their careers.
The top-ranked wrestler at 149 pounds, Joseph opened up Saturday with a win by pinfall in 2 minutes, 35 seconds before fighting to a 7-1 decision to earn a spot in the semifinals. Joseph went on to take on fifth-seeded Danny Downes from Roger Williams the next day. Joseph put up a valiant fight, but ended up falling in a 12-6 decision.
Entering the weekend as the second-ranked wrestler at 133, Keane began Saturday with a pin of his own in 2:11, and then delivered a hard-fought 6-5 decision. Keane then faced third-seeded Austin Sico of Western New England in the semifinals the following day. Keane came up with an 8-3 decision to move on to the final. It was a nail biter throughout, but Keane was able to push through and deliver a 4-3 decision. Keane will now move on to the Division III National Championship Tournament in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Mar. 11-12.
Head coach Jason Holder reflected on the massive support everyone got in their semi-final bouts.
“It was awesome,” said Holder. “It was great to have the whole team there supporting each other and chanting their names.”
Seeded No. 2 at 285, Benedict earned two victories by decision coming by the scores of 6-1 and 7-5 to reach the semifinals. The sophomore took on sixth-seeded Frank Girolamo of Norwich and was able to grind out a 6-2 decision to catapult himself to the final. Benedict continued his dominance in the final by getting a 6-3 decision and also advancing to the national tournament.
“He was great this weekend,” said Holder in regards to Benedict. “He’s a special kid, and if he sticks to his game plan he’ll find success at Nationals.”
This is another year that Springfield College will send multiple students to the national tournament, and Holder couldn’t be prouder.
“This is an exciting time for Springfield College,” said Holder. “For the young guys to experience this is awesome.”