by Roger Wistar
Two of the three Hotchkiss wrestlers at New Englands earned podium finishes and qualified for the prep national championships next weekend.
AJ Caba '20 finished in fifth place at 132 lbs. and Duncan Sopko '19 finished sixth at 220 lbs., which makes both wrestlers eligible for the National Preps tournament next weekend at Lehigh University.
Caba won his opening match 5-3 before suffering a narrow defeat 3-2 in the quarterfinals when his opponent, Alex Feye of St. Paul's, earned a one-point escape in the final period.
The consolation bracket proved some measure of redemption for Caba, as he easily shut out his first opponent, Sam Hecht of Hopkins, 5-0. The two had wrestled at Westerns, where Hecht suffered an injury and won the match due to medical forfeit.
Caba was pinned in his next match by eventual third-place finisher Josh Hemintakoon of Exeter, but he earned another rematch, this time against Feye. Again, the bout came down to the narrowest of margins – this time, Caba won 2-1 as Feye was penalized for stalling in the third period.
For Sopko, the road was somewhat tougher, as he was pinned in his opening match by eventual fourth-place finisher Kelechi Nwankwoala of Exeter. Relegated to the consolation bracket, Sopko bounced back strong, winning his next three matches, with two pins and a 10-2 decision.
In the consolation semifinals, Sopko came up against his finals opponent at Westerns, Lachlan Rosato of Brunswick, and the results were similar – this time, instead of a pin, Rosato beat Sopko 14-1 for a sixth place finish for Sopko.
Also wrestling at New Englands was Andrew Vagliano '17 at 182 lbs. Vagliano earned a pin in his first consolation bracket match before bowing out one round later.