Jefferson Ajayi '13, Howard Tobochnik '13 & Josh Roometua '16 Qualify for NCAA Wrestling After Top-Three Finish at N'East Regional
Jefferson Ajayi '13 (top photo) took second place at 184 pounds while Howard Tobochnik '13 (middle photo) and Josh Roometua '16 (bottom photo) placed third at 149 and 197 pounds, respectively, to earn spot in the upcoming NCAA Division III Championships to be held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa Fri.-Sat., March 15-16. The Northeast Region qualifier was held at WPI Sat.-Sun., March 2-3 with 18 teams in attendance. The top three finishers at each weight class automatically qualify for the NCAAs in the new national format. There are six regionals across the country so 18 individuals qualify at each weight class for NCAAs.
Ajayi, seeded second, fell in the championship match, 3-2, to top seeded Colin Lenhardt of Johnson & Wales as Ajayi had the only takedown of the match while Lenhardt had a riding point, an escape and was given a critical stall point by the official in the third period. Ajayi had won his first three matches by decision, one of them a major. Ajayi posted an overall record of 31-5 this season and is a returning All-American, having place seventh at NCAAs a year ago.
Tobochnik, seeded second, won his NCAA qualifying match for third place, 12-9, after winning three earlier matches by pin. He lost to Jorge Lopez of Williams, 11-6, as Lopez went on the finish second. Tobochnik finished with a team-leading overall record of 34-4 and is one of just four Cardinal grapplers in history to surpass 100 career wins, credited with 119 including preseason matches at the Roger Williams Tournament over his four years.
Rising to the occasion as the sixth seed was Roometua, who went 5-1 at the regional qualifier and took the match for third place by a 3-1 score in overtime, getting a takedown near the end of the one-minute extra period after he and unseeded Sean Fagan of Southern Maine, who he pinned to begin his action at the regional, tied 1-1 after seven minutes. Roometua had an overall record of 26-10 in his rookie year.
Wesleyan had three other grapplers take fifth place for all-regional honors as 133-pounder Maika Nagata '13, 141-pounder Nick Scotto '13 and 174-pounder Kyle Roosa '13 all took fifth. Scotto had three pins to up his total for the year to 21 and finish with an overall record of 30-7. Roosa ended the year with a record of 28-4 and had 106 career wins, including preseason matches. He was a two-time New England champ at 174 pounds and NCAA qualifier in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. Nagata ended the season with a 13-8 mark.
In the team scoring at the regional qualifier, Wesleyan finished fourth among the 18 teams with 91 team points, well ahead of fifth-place Johnson & Wales (78) and just five points shy of third-place Ithaca. Cortland St. won with 133.5 points while Springfield was second with 123. This was the first year the 14 NEWA squads were joined by Cortland, Ithaca, Oswego and Oneonta for the Northeast Regional.
At the NCAAs, all three Cardinal matmen dropped their opening two matches, suffering early elimination. Tobochnik fell to the #4 seed by a 3-1 count, then built a 7-1 lead on his next rival from Waynesburg before falling in sudden-victory overtime, 13-11. Ajayi lost to the #2 seed in the first round, 7-2, then was pinned by an NYU wrestler in the consolations. Roometua drew the #8 seed in the first round, falling, 7-2. He then faced the #1 seed in the consolation, dropping an 8-3 match.
The National Wrestling Coaches Association released its scholar team list and Wesleyan ranked sixth nationally in Division III with a team GPA of 3.44. Four individuals were named scholar All-Americans - Tobochnik, Scotto, Roosa and Nagata.
To see a 24-minute video compilation of the 2012-13 wresting season, courtesy of Nick Treuer '14, please click < here >.