CASTLETON, Vt. – The top competitors in each weight class for the Castleton University wrestling team will head to Worcester, Mass., for the 2018 NCAA Northeast Regional Wrestling Championships, hosted by WPI at the Sports and Recreation Center Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 24-25.
Castleton is one of 17 schools competing in this regional, along with Bridgewater State, Coast Guard, Johnson & Wales, New England College, New York University, Norwich, Plymouth State, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams, Southern Maine, Springfield, Trinity, Wesleyan, Western New England, Williams, and WPI. There are six regionals taking place this weekend, with those who qualify advancing to the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, March 9-10.
There is no team qualification for the national championships, as all qualifications are based on individual performances. A wrestler needs to finish in the top three in his weight class in order to advance to Cleveland, either by advancing to the title match of the main bracket or by winning the third-place contest in the consolation section. The top six wrestlers in each weight class receive All-Region recognition.
The Spartans are hoping to improve upon last year's regional performance, when they finished in 13th place, had two wrestlers earn All-Region honors, and saw Zak Hale qualify for the national championships after finishing second in the 141-pound bracket. Castleton will be represented in all 10 weight classes, one of 12 schools to field a full squad for the regionals.
125 pounds – Ryan Cabezas: Cabezas dropped to 125 pounds for the NEWA Dual Championships and has earned three victories in the past month. He won the 133-pound bracket at last year's Futures Tournament.
133 pounds – Nick Camacho: Camacho brings a 27-14 overall record into this weekend's competition and has made appearances in the top six of the NEWA individual rankings throughout the year.
141 pounds – Max Tempel: After going 28-9 at 149 pounds, Tempel dropped to 141 pounds starting at the NEWA Dual Championships and has won 13 of 14 matches since that move. Three weeks ago, he defeated nationally ranked Joe Ferinde of Johnson & Wales.
149 pounds – Reece Millington: With Tempel's move down, Millington took over the starting position in this weight class. He has collected 18 victories so far this season, half of those coming via pin.
157 pounds – James Kilgo: Due to injuries to other Spartans, Kilgo returns to 157 pounds, where he was through the first half of the season. In order to get more work, he wrestled at 165 pounds last Sunday at the Futures Tournament.
165 pounds – Jared Costa: The senior has won 22 matches so far this season, including a 12-match winning streak that featured a bracket victory at the Will Abele Invitational. He has also been a constant presence in the NEWA top six individual rankings this year.
174 pounds – Ibragim Arsakhanov: Transferring into Castleton during the winter break, Arsakhanov has posted a 14-3 record, starting at 184 pounds where he won 10 straight matches. He dropped to 174 pounds at last Sunday's Futures Tournament, finishing in third place.
184 pounds – Mitchell LaFlam: The only returning Spartan to advance into the second day of last year's NCAA Northeast Regionals, LaFlam has 26 victories so far this season. He is coming off a 5-0 victory over Sebastian Dziadkiewicz of Williams two weeks ago.
197 pounds – Cedrick Stephens: Stephens brings a 26-6 overall record into the regional competition, including victories in five of his last six contests. Stephens won the 197-pound bracket at the Williams Open Jan. 6 and finished second at the Ted Reese Invitational Dec. 2.
285 pounds – Jesse Webb: Webb's homecoming has been extraordinary, winning 33 of 39 matches, including 13 pins without his shoulders hitting the mat in any contest. The junior transfer has won four brackets this season, and a fifth bracket win will send him to Cleveland.
Tickets for each day of the regional tournament are $10 for adults and $5 for students and senior citizens, with children under 12 receiving free admission. Live streaming will be available for a fee at http://bit.ly/2EIr28m.