NORTHFIELD, Vt. - With a number of exciting matches on the schedule and a talented group of veteran and freshmen wrestlers, Head Coach Alex Whitney and Norwich University wrestling program looks to continue to improve during the 2018-19 campaign.
The Cadets went 5-11 in head-to-head matchups in 2017-18, including wins over American International, Bridgewater State, and Rhode Island College among others. Norwich wrapped up their season with a trip to the NCAA Regionals, finishing 14th in the field of 17 teams with 14.0 team points.
This year's edition of Norwich wrestling features a freshmen-heavy roster, including a number of newcomers that Coach Whitney is excited for. Acknowledging that it might take a minute for the group to adjust to college-style wrestling, Whitney pointed to freshmen like Daniel Curran, Blaise Bressler, and others who are talented enough to make the jump to collegiate competition easily enough. "We have some exceptional wrestlers who had great success in high school, which should make that transition easier," he said.
At the head of this year's roster will be team captains Steve Briganti (Trumbull, Conn.), Satchel Stauffer, and Zach Morris (South Glens Falls, N.Y.). "We have a young team," Coach Whitney said, "but we feel as though this group is up for the challenge of leadership."
A returner to keep an eye on is senior Jacob Forsman (Voorhees, N.J.) who was selected as the fifth-ranked 133-pound grappler in New England by the New England Wrestling Association. Forsman led the team in individual victories last year, and although the Cadets are unsure if Forsman will stay at 133-lbs or drop down to 125-lbs, they'll look to the senior for leadership on the mat this year. Coach Whitney explains that the main goal for Forsman is getting him to the National Tournament, and he'll be put into whatever position best sets that up.
The Cadets will navigate through a season of fourteen dates, including home matchups with Plymouth State and New England College and the first-ever hosting of the All-Academy Championship on January 26th. The All-Academy tournament will feature all five of the Nation's service academies (United States Military Academy, Naval Academy, Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, Air Force Academy) along with The Citadel and the Virginia Military Institute in a one-of-a-kind wrestling championship.
A date that's always circled on the calendar is the annual Battle of the Green Mountain Championship with in-state rival Castleton University. Last year's match was suspended originally before eventually being canceled due to inclement weather. "We are excited to get back to our rivalry with Castleton," said Coach Whitney. "They have improved quite a bit from the first time we faced them, but we're up to the challenge." This year's matchup is scheduled for November 14th at Castleton at 7:00 PM.
Coach Whitney looks to the Cadets' preseason strength and conditioning program to give them an edge late in the action this year. "As a military school and a roster primarily made up of Rooks, I expect us to be outlasting teams with our conditioning and endurance" he explained.
For the 2018-19 season, the main goal for Norwich will be integrating all their new faces and utilizing the characteristics that make these student-athletes a great fit for Norwich University and Norwich wrestling. "We have a young team, but all are what we consider to be the quintessential fit to Norwich," Whitney explained. "They're hard working, teachable, and all work with the team in mind first and foremost."
Norwich wrestling gets their season started this weekend when they travel to the two-day Ithaca Invitational. Their first home date will be December 5th when they host Plymouth State, the only home match before the All-Academy Championships on January 26th. The final home matchup will be against New England College on February 1st, and the NCAA Division III Regionals will take place on February 23rd and 24th at Johnson & Wales.