Mids Look to Improve on Last Year's Success
Craig Dziewiatkowski celebrates after placing third at 165 pounds in last year's EIWA Tournament. Dziewiatkowski is ranked 17th in the preseason national poll.
Oct. 26, 2005
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- The 2004-05 edition of the Navy wrestling team was by all means, a successful campaign. The Mids finished with a 12-3 dual-meet record, finished third at the EIWA Tournament and sent six wrestlers to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 1991.
However, Head Coach Bruce Burnett wants more and thinks he can get it with this year's group.
"Last year's team was successful, but we didn't accomplish what we wanted to," said Burnett. "Our goal remains the same - win the EIWA Championship and have NCAA All-Americans. We didn't do that last year."
With a solid mix of returning EIWA placewinners and a talented freshman class, Burnett hopes that this year's squad can get over the hump.
"The team made a great commitment to working hard and getting better in the offseason, and the senior class is ready to step up and keep this program moving forward," said Burnett. "We're getting close to where we want to be in terms of national recognition, but we have to make the next step. That's what this group has to do.
"Everyone wants to win and be successful and we aren't going to stray from what we have done in the past," said Burnett. "We are always going to have to prove ourselves and be committed to get to the next level. One of the benefits of coaching at the Naval Academy is that we have a lot of good athletes that are very committed to getting better."
Below is a weight-by-weight breakdown for the upcoming season.
Junior Alex Usztics returns after posting an 18-14 record a year ago, including a 4-2 record in dual meets. Usztics fell one match short of placing at the EIWA Tournament. However, with another year of seasoning, Usztics could make a push at a solid placing in the EIWA's.
"Usztics is a grinder and will be counted on more so this year," said Burnett. "He has gotten better every year and we hope he can continue that trend this year."
Senior Mike Kohler, sophomore Matt Beck and freshman Adam Shemon figure to push Usztics for the starting spot. Kohler was 2-5 last year, but has improved significantly from last year. Beck was just 0-2 in 2004-05, but has very good tools and Shemon was fourth in 2004 at the Minnesota State Tournament.
Freshman Caleb Levee also plans to be in the mix after a stellar prep career in Louisiana. Levee finished last season ranked in the nation's top 30, won the Louisiana state title and was the state's winner of the Dave Shultz Award awarded by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The award is based equally on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship or community service.
An interesting race sets up at 133. Junior Brad Canterbury is one option after posting a 13-7 record at 125 pounds last year. He wrestled the majority of his matches before the holiday break before an injury and weight issues sidelined him for the rest of the year.
Freshman Joe Baker went 0-2 at 125 pounds last year, before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Two-time NCAA qualifier Nate Gulosh has graduated, but several Mids have stepped up and appear poised to fill his shoes.
Sophomore Spencer Manley had a solid year as Gulosh's backup, posting a 12-9 record with two wins coming by fall.
Senior Chris Miosi was 9-8 in 2004-05 and has the experience needed to fill the spot.
Junior John Cox returns after an outstanding 2004-05 season that saw him win 29 matches and advance to his first NCAA Tournament as a EIWA wild-card selection. Cox enters the year at No. 13 in the preseason Amateur Wrestling News rankings - the highest-ranked EIWA wrestler in the weight class.
"He has worked very hard in the offseason and we are expecting big things from him this year," said Burnett. "He wrestled a lot of matches in the offseason and we are hoping for a breakthrough year for him."
A host of wrestlers figure to be Cox's backup.
Senior Matt Gulosh is also an option. The younger Gulosh wrestled at the 2003 EIWA Tournament at 141 pounds and has been in-and-out of the lineup since. Gulosh comes from a strong wrestling family, as his older brother, Nate, qualified for the last two NCAA Championships at 141 pounds while at the Academy.
Freshman Ricky Tippett is a two-time Maryland state champion, sophomore Justin Jacobs, who went 9-4 last year, won three Michigan state championships, sophomore Joe Butcher and freshman Anthony Laurita, who placed four times at the Colorado state meet, all figure to push for time.
Senior Adam Brochetti appears to have a grip on the competition at 157 pounds. The Kittanning, Pa., native was injured off-and-on last year, but is now healthy and in shape for the upcoming season. He posted an 18-9 record last year, but was unable to wrestle during the last month of the season.
Several Mids figure to battle for the starting spot. John Jarred was 4-2 at 165 pounds last year, but is dropping down to 157 this year. Sophomore Chris Rossi is extremely talented, but hasn't wrestled for a year after not attending the Academy a year ago. Freshman Joel Ahern has very good skills but lacks the experience.
"Last year's team was successful, but we didn't accomplish what we wanted to. Our goal remains the same - win the EIWA Championship and have NCAA All-Americans. We didn't do that last year."
Head Coach Bruce Burnett
Senior Craig Dziewiatkowski emerged from a mid-season battle last year to come out of nowhere and finish third at the EIWA meet, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Dziewiatkowski finished with a 29-14 mark last year and enters the season ranked 17th in the preseason Amateur Wrestling News poll.
"Craig is obviously the frontrunner," said Burnett. "He has trained hard and looks very strong. He should have another very good year."
A trio of freshmen appear to push Dziewiatkowski the most. Ben Pero was a two-time state runner-up in Wisconsin, Jason Coyne was a Sectional champ in Pennsylvania and Kenneth Lee was a two-time placewinner at the national Prep Tournament. Lee, however, suffered an injury during plebe summer and will be held up until healthy. Sophomore Robert Johnston will also be in the mix.
Sophomore Matt Stolpinski returns after one of the best freshman campaigns in school history. He finished 25-17 last year with a sixth-place finish in the EIWA Tournament. His 25 wins as a freshman are the fourth most by a freshman in school history. To top it off, Stolpinski had a strong offseason as he just missed placing at University Nationals.
"He's the kind of wrestler that makes me a better coach," said Burnett. "He works so hard and wants to be as good as he can be. We are expecting a really big year from him."
A pair of freshman, Jesse Feinsod and Casey Caldwell appear to be in line to be Stolpinski's backup. Feinsod was a two-time Colorado state champion and Caldwell was an Indiana state runner-up with a 47-1 record in 2005.
Both of Navy's top wrestlers at 184 pounds are back in Jonny Kane and Chris Pogue.
Kane was the starter for most of last year, but an injury sidelined him right before the EIWA Tournament. Kane posted a 26-12 record and won the All-Academy Tournament as the third seed. Pogue was 9-8 and was one match shy of placing at the EIWA Tournament.
"Both of them are coming off of injuries, so it will be interesting to see how things shake out," said Burnett. "Kane had a good year and a bad year last year. The good was that he improved drastically. The bad was that he was injured a lot and recently just injured his arm. He finally got out of the cast, so his training is a little behind. Pogue has a lot of talent. He just needs to stay healthy."
Senior Andrew Adams appears to have a stronghold at 197 pounds after an outstanding offseason. Adams was 22-9 as a backup to NCAA qualifier Thayer Paxton last year, but appears ready to pick up where Paxton left off. Adams advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. National Championships in April, defeating two 2005 All-Americans in the process.
Besides being Navy's best bet for an All-American in 2005-06, Tanner Garrett has been voted as the team captain. It's a role that Burnett thinks Garrett will excel in.
"He has done an outstanding job getting everyone on the same page and getting people to work hard in the room," said Burnett. "We are looking for big things from him on and off the mat."
Garrett enters the year ranked No. 7 in the preseason Amateur Wrestling News poll after posting a 35-5 record last year. He advanced to the round of 16 at the NCAA Tournament and his 35 wins tied for the seventh-most in school history. Garrett needs just 29 wins for 100 in his career, and would become the sixth wrestler in school history to reach that mark if he can get there.
Garrett will be backed up by a pair of skilled underclassmen. Sophomore Ed Prendergast was 10-8 as a freshman last year, while freshman Matt Intocchia was third at the National Prep Tournament in 2003.
The schedule continues to be a challenge for the Mids, where as many as seven dual meets could come against nationally-ranked foes. Cal State-Bakersfield, UC-Davis, Penn State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Purdue, Lehigh and Army all figure to be in or around the top 25.
Throw in the 33-team Southern Scuffle, the Penn State Open, the All-Academy Championships and the EIWA Tournament, and Navy has pieced together another outstanding schedule.
"I take the scheduling very seriously," said Burnett. "It really prepares us for the postseason and we feel this year's schedule will do that. It will be very challenging."
The Mids will wrestle at home against Penn State, Maryland and Army giving the fans a chance to see some of the nation's best teams and some of Navy's biggest rivals. Navy will also see powers Lehigh, Cornell, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia Tech and Edinboro at the 33-team Southern Scuffle in late December, which is quickly becoming one of the nation's premier wrestling tournaments. The Mids will also compete in the West Virginia Open, giving backups an opportunity to get some matches under their belts.
"It's important for us to get our reserves some matches as well," said Burnett. "In the event of injuries, they have to be ready to go, and be able to compete and win in the EIWA Tournament. The only way they can do that is to get experience.
"We want to succeed and get better as a team," added Burnett. "But the only way to do that is through sacrifice and hard work. This team has been willing to do that. That's a good start to take it to the next level. We'll continue to move forward and hopefully we'll continue to climb the ladder in the NCAA rankings."
# GO NAVY #