UMass wrestling eyes spring season as it finishes successful fall

By Jackson Goddard

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Jackson Goddard/Daily Collegian

Which Massachusetts team had a terrific season this fall? Which one stands out, in terms of both an individual and team effort, as competing at its highest level in years? Which team boasts a national champion?

Fans might be hard pressed to think of a successful program at this point in the semester, but you might be surprised to find out that the UMass wrestling team meets this description.

The UMass wrestling club won gold in every tournament its participated in so far this semester and furthering a building string of momentum over the past few years. Competing in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, the Minutemen have sent wrestlers to the National Championships the past three years.

“First semester tends to be just getting into the rhythm of things and then second semester is really our big competition,” senior captain Brian Stapleton said.

The wrestling club took first place at the 2013 Connecticut Classic at the University Connecticut. Five wrestlers from UMass advanced to the finals and four of them won, while the Minutemen garnered 70 team points, trumping second place UConn, which scored 66.5 points.

Stapleton is one of the wrestlers who won gold at the Connecticut Classic, earning the medal in the 197-pound weight class. Stapleton was an All American his freshman year.

Heavyweight Emmitt Takch took first place at the 235-pound weight class, as did sophomore Jake Stallone at 184 pounds. Stallone edged his opponent by just a single point in a close match. And Casey Corey, the team’s only female wrestler, came in first in the women’s division Corey was a national champion at the 157-pound weight class last year, winning the NCWA national championship.

Wrestling is not as simple as the person who pins his opponent wins. There is a complicated point system that determines the victor. A pin will end the match, but if neither wrestler is pinned then the outcome is decided by the number of points each wrestler earned. Points are earned by dropping an opponent to the mat, standing up if you have already been dropped to the mat or putting an opponent’s back to the mat. A wrestler is only pinned if both of his shoulders are touching the ground simultaneously.

Wrestling is an individual sport, but each individual player contributes to the point total of his or her team. The outcome of a match determines how many points go to the victor’s team. Pins, technical superiority and wins by decision all earn the team different point totals.

The wrestling club has been picking up steam for years now with both individual and team performances, and the coming semester should be one of their strongest in memory. The club is regularly getting over 20 members to show up to practices where attendance is not strictly enforced. These numbers will serve them well in the coming year as the team continues to garner support after consistent performances.

The club is looking forward to a regional tournament in Niagara, Canada, this weekend and the regional tournament at the end of the semester. They hope to send wrestlers to the 2014 NCWA National Championship in Texas.

Jackson Goddard can be reached [email protected]