By Dillon Stambaugh
The Hawks won their second tournament in a row on Saturday, Nov. 12, cruising to a first place finish at the Roger Williams University Invitational in their home gym.
The Hawks, currently ranked #8 in the country, bested three nationally ranked teams en route to their second consecutive RWU Invitational championship. Among them were Messiah College (#2), Stevens Institute of Technology (#5) and York College (#10). And, they did so with only one champion.
Senior heavyweight Kyle Foster breezed through his weight class with three pins and two decisions and was the only champion for the Hawks. He defeated Austin Shrewsbury of Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the finals, 5-2. Foster also earned his 100th career victory over the weekend, becoming the 15th wrestler in RWU Wrestling history to reach the milestone. Senior teammates Danny Downes (149) and Ty Herzog (157) both earned their 100th wins a week prior at the Monarch Invitational.
“One hundred wins was a goal for me ever since I started four years ago,” said Foster. “It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to the sport.”
The record for wins in a career at RWU is 151, set last season by NCAA Champion David Welch. Foster will not be able to catch Welch, but with almost the entire season ahead of him, it’s likely the two-time national qualifier will pass RWU Head Coach Jon Egan, who currently sits in fifth all-time with 121 wins.
“It’s a pretty exclusive club,” said Egan, speaking on the 100 wins club. “[Foster] was a man on a mission.”
As aforementioned, Foster was the Hawks’ only champion over the weekend. Senior Captains Danny Downes and Al Golner (165) both did not wrestle due to injury. And yet, at arguably the most difficult regular season tournament in the country, RWU earned 10 medals in total, five of which were won by freshman.
Other than Foster, the only senior to place was Herzog, who took 4th in a tough 157 pound weight class. Junior medalists for the Hawks were Nicholas Barbaria (125, 6th) and Justin Cochran (149, 3rd). Connor Humphries (184, 6th) was the lone sophomore medalist for the Hawks. The five freshman medalists included Tyler Gazaway (4th, 149), Brett Leonard (5th, 165), Taylor Shay (3rd, 174), Devin Pietz (5th, 174) and Chris Francis (3rd, 197). Francis beat a returning national qualifier from Messiah en route to his third place finish, and Pietz came out of seemingly nowhere to add his name to the list of talented freshman to watch this season.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves and what we need to work on,” said Egan. “If anything, [this weekend] shows how deep our team is. Four out of our top six scorers were freshman.”
The Hawks begin their dual meet schedule next and travel to WPI on Saturday, Nov. 19. They will wrestle Kings College, Castleton University, Norwich University and Ursinis College.