Wrestling wins first national title in MIT history

Ten months after the varsity program was cut, the wrestling team won the 2010 National Collegiate Wrestling Association Division II National Championship on Saturday, March 13th in Hampton, VA. The Engineers scored 64.5 points as a team for a 7th overall finish with only five point-scoring wrestlers out of a possible eleven. Four MIT wrestlers earned All-American honors: co-captain Grant M. Kadokura ’11 became MIT’s first national champion at 125 lbs, while co-captain Joseph B. Silverman ’10 took second place at 197 lbs, Ryan J. Madson ‘13 placed fourth at 165 lbs, and Lucas C. Schiefelbein ‘13 placed seventh at 174 lbs. Graduate student Elena L. Glassman G represented MIT in the women’s division and took second place at 130 lbs.

The season did not start well for the Engineers, when the program was denied varsity status despite raising $1.6 million in an effort to endow the program. However, four freshman joined the team despite the loss of varsity status and formed one of the strongest incoming classes in recent memory: Bee Vang ’13 at 133 lbs, Brian G. Anderson ‘13 at 197 lbs, Madson, and Schiefelbein. All four started immediately for MIT, qualified for the national tournament, and finished with winning records.

As the season progressed, the team became stronger, placing first in the Groundhog Day Invitational at Amherst College and third at the Northeast Conference Championships at the University of Vermont before taking the team title at the National Tournament. In late January, the team added Nick Kolegraff, a graduate of the phenomenal University of Iowa wrestling program, to the strong coaching staff composed of head coach Tom Layte and assistants John Bosco, Chad Leedekerken G, and Mike Mitrowski. This midseason strengthening allowed six of eight MIT wrestlers to qualify for the National Tournament.

The season ended on a high note with four All-Americans, including two national finalists. Kadokura, who pinned University of Georgia wrestler Frankie Miller 37 seconds into the second period to take first at 125 ponds, had not lost a match since January. “It was clear 30 seconds into the match that Grant was in control,” said Loren Dessonville ’75. “What I found particularly impressive was that Grant seemed to get tougher with each match. His teammates frequently use the adjective ‘relentless’ to describe Grant. I think that character was apparent in this tournament.”

Silverman, who took second in his weight class, is only graduating senior on the team. “Joe has been a great leader, teammate, and friend,” said head coach Tom Layte. “He inspires all of his teammates with his strong work ethic and selflessness. He will be truly missed.”

Rounding out MIT’s All-American squad were two freshman, Madson and Schiefelbein. Layte was particularly impressed with Schiefelbein’s performance. “Luke made some huge strides in the week and a half of practice leading up to the National Tournament,” Layte explained. “He finished seventh in the country and placed ahead of three of the wrestlers who finished ahead of him at the national qualifier.”

Madson also had a strong season, leading the Engineers in pins with 11 and in wins with 30 in his first season of collegiate wrestling. He placed fourth in the nation, his only losses being two close decisions to Carter Adams of the US Air Force Academy prep school.

MIT also celebrated the crowning of its first All-American and national finalist in women’s wrestling as Glassman placed second in the nation at 130 lbs in only her second year of wrestling.

With offseason weight training already underway, the Engineers look forward to another strong season next year.