Fifteen is a bad number for freshman, however for the Springfield College wrestling team, 15 is nothing but good. Jake Strohman, Zach Joseph, and Will Henson are three of the 15 freshmen whose start to their season seems to be just a preview into their future.
The three freshmen opened up the 2013-2014 wrestling season strong at the Ithaca Invitational on November 8 and 9, with Strohman placing third in the 141-pound weight class, Joseph placing fifth in the 149-pound weight class, and Henson placing second in the 174-pound weight class.
But who are these new faces on the Pride’s wrestling squad?
Jake Strohman, an East Longmeadow, Mass. native, started wrestling his freshman year of high school. He was lucky enough to make the varsity team due to openings in the team’s roster. Qualifying for states as a beginner was just the start to his wrestling career, however. Finding himself just getting by in the sport, qualifying for states each year, but not producing many wins, Strohman really picked up the pace the summer going into his senior year.
With off-season work, Strohman ended up placing eighth at the national tournament at the 138-pound weight class.
Will Henson, a four-year varsity starter at Barnstable High School, hit his wrestling peak during his sophomore year. This was the year he knew he needed to put in the work in the off-season to improve his skills.
That work paid off when Henson placed fourth in the All State Tournament, leading him to his junior year, about which he stated was “his year.” He returned to form that year, winning the All State Tournament, leading him to place second in the New England Tournament.
Returning for his senior year of high school, Henson admitted that he was not in the right state of mind, but that did not keep him from wrestling.
“It was kind of hard because I never really had any good training partners in my room,” stated Henson.
Closing out his high school career, he placed third in the All State Tournament, qualifying for the New England Tournament, where he lost focus and didn’t perform well.
Lastly, the New York native from Shenendohowa High School, Zach Joseph, started his high school wrestling career in eighth grade.
Joseph made the varsity team his sophomore year, but didn’t go far in the rankings. Realizing that he needed to put in more work his junior year, he found success from then on.
Hearing about this school through Springfield College wrestling alumni, Joseph trained with now-deceased 1984 Olympic Gold Medalist Jeff Blatnick, who was also an All-American here at Springfield.
“The opportunity itself, just to have him in your corner…I was grateful,” stated Joseph. “He was a great guy. I know I’m willing to put in the work.”
Despite their past experiences, all three wrestlers are grappling for the starting position, never knowing when they will achieve that goal.
“The transition from high school to college wrestling was a big jump, but it wasn’t really much that I didn’t expect,” stated Henson. “Every wrestler knows the work it is going to take.”
Being a small campus, Henson wanted this kind of setting that Springfield has to offer, and with updates from coach Jay Holder about the program, he knew he had made the right choice.
The team atmosphere makes the wrestlers feel a lot more comfortable in the room as well. With Springfield being a younger team, the freshmen are able to fit right in with the rest of the pack.
“It’s a different feeling from high school, knowing that you are getting beat up on an everyday basis” stated Strohman jokingly. “I love it. I’ve been pushed every practice.”
Being an Applied Exercise Science major, Strohman came here due to the well-known academic program and has had to balance wrestling along with it.
The future holds a lot for the freshmen of the Springfield College wrestling team.
“We have a really big incoming freshmen class…We have a lot of talented wrestlers.” stated Henson. “The future is bright.”
The common goal for all three wrestlers is to become a national champion. The team experienced that feeling just last year when now-senior Devin Biscaha captured the gold at the Division III NCAA Tournament.
“I’m just trying to move forward and I’ve progressively gotten better every year that I’ve wrestled,” stated Strohman. “I’m trying to make those jumps to the national level and stay there.”
With the season just beginning, and the career of these freshmen underway, they will continue to work hard, waiting to see what will play out in their college careers.
“I think our team is only going to get better with our freshmen class,” stated Joseph.
The Springfield College Pride will host the Doug Parker Invitational on November 23.