PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For the second consecutive season, the Castleton University wrestling team claimed a fifth-place finish at the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Dual Meet Championship.
The sixth-seeded Spartans dropped their first match of the day against third-seeded Roger Williams, before bouncing back with wins of the Nos. 7 and 5 seeds Western New England and Wesleyan (Conn.), respectively, in their final two matches of the day. The effects of Winter Storm Harper impacted the field for the event, as the original 16-team field shrunk to just 10 teams on Sunday. Michael Gonyea--who was named to the All-Tournament Team--Chance LaPier and Jesse Webb each went 3-0 in their respective weight classes on the day.
Castleton opened the day with a loss to Roger Williams, 21-16. Nick Camacho dropped the 125 by decision, before Gonyea got Castleton on the board with a major decision victory to put the Spartans up 4-3. Roger Williams took each of the next four bouts, taking a commanding 18-4 lead. The Spartans stormed back with a vengeance, as LaPier and Jason Hoffman rattled off back-to-back wins at 174 and 184 via decision to make it 18-10. Roger Williams sealed the match with a win via sudden victory at the 197 while Webb earned Castleton's final six points via opponent forfeit, making it 21-16.
The Spartans stayed alive in the consolation side of the bracket in their second match of the day, knocking off Western New England 23-16 thanks to a late comeback. Trailing 3-0 after the opening bout, Gonyea again earned a win at 133, pinning his opponent at the 5:19 mark to put the Spartans ahead 6-3. WNE claimed the 141, before Max Tempel dominated his opponent with a 17-0 win via technical fall to put the Spartans ahead 11-7. The Golden Bears took each of the next two weight classes, jumping ahead 13-11 after a pair of decisions. LaPier put the Spartans back in the win column with a 12-8 decision, but WNE answered with an 8-3 decision of its own to regain the lead, 16-14. Mitchell LaFlam answered with an 8-7 decision that went down to the wire, before Webb capped the match with the fastest pin of his career just 15 seconds into the match to give Castleton the 23-16 victory.
Castleton closed out the day with another come-from-behind win in the fifth-place match, as Webb lifted the team to victory in the final bout of the afternoon. Trailing 23-18 and needing a pin to win the match, Webb got the upper hand on his opponent and won via fall at the 4:54 mark to give Castleton the fifth-place finish. Gonyea earned a win via decision at 133, as did Tempel at 149. LaPier and Hoffman each pinned their opponents at the 174 and 184 to bring Castleton back into contention in the match before LaFlam lost a tight battle at the 197, 3-2, giving Webb a chance to bring the Spartans to victory, 24-23.
Castleton returns to action on Friday with its final home meet of the season. The Spartans will battle Rhode Island College and SUNY-Oswego beginning at 6 p.m.