PROVIDENCE, R.I. – For the second consecutive year, Castleton University won three of four dual matches, but a convincing first round victory allowed the Spartans to eventually claim fifth place at the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Dual Meet Championships Sunday at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.
Entering the tournament as the seventh seed in the 16-team field, Castleton won nine of 10 matches to cruise to a 36-3 victory over 10th seed Western New England. However, the tables were turned in the quarterfinals, as the Spartans lost eight of 10 matches to second seed and nationally ranked WPI, falling to the Engineers 26-7.
Castleton struggled early against sixth seed Springfield, losing five of the first six matches to fall behind 19-5. Starting with Nolan Viens at 174 pounds, the Spartans won three straight matches by decision to stay alive, but Castleton needed a big result in the final match to win the dual. Jesse Webb once again delivered, pinning his opponent 54 seconds into the second period to give the Spartans the six points they needed for the victory.
Southern Maine, the eighth seed in the bracket, stuck with Castleton through the early portion of the fifth place match, splitting the first four contests. Cameron Milliken earned a pin 2:05 into the 157-pound contest, starting a stretch where the Spartans won four of five matches to clinch fifth place.
Max Tempel did not let a drop to 141 pounds affect him, as he was named to the All-Tournament Team after sweeping his matches during the day. Tempel started with a 9-2 decision victory over Alex Starr of Western New England, followed by a 9-1 major decision win over WPI's Andrew Ellis. He was able to defeat Derek Bohle of Springfield on a technical fall during a dual in which every point was needed, and then he finished the day with a pin of Nathaniel Grimard of Southern Maine halfway through the first period.
Besides starting Castleton's rally against Springfield, Viens was also 4-0 Sunday, beginning with decision wins over Josh Nelson of Western New England and Mike Ilic of WPI. Viens defeated Springfield's Ryan Harty by decision, 4-1, and then completed his perfect day with an 8-4 decision victory over Justin Stacy.
Cedrick Stephens continued his strong season at 197 pounds, going 3-1 starting with a close 3-2 decision win over Andrew Cole of Western New England. After a tough 4-0 loss to WPI's Michael Curtis, Stephens defeated Ryan Gray of Springfield on a decision to make Webb's heroics possible, and then he clinched Castleton's win over Southern Maine with a 2-0 decision victory over Brandon Cousino.
Castleton, now 10-5 in dual matches this season, embarks on a busy weekend starting next Saturday, Jan. 27, with a rematch at Western New England starting at 5 p.m. The Spartans then head back to Providence, R.I., for the Wildcat Open, hosted by Johnson & Wales University Sunday, Jan. 28, beginning at 9:30 a.m.