WORCESTER, Mass. – After another tremendously successful season, the Johnson & Wales University wrestling team cleaned up in the NEWA postseason awards. The highlight was senior Jay Albis earning his second-straight NEWA Wrestler of the Year honor.
Albis was joined on the NEWA First-Team by Bobby Jordan, Joe Ferinde, Da'mani Burns, Khamri Thomas and Michael DiNardo. Michael Gargano was a Second-Team selection while Adrian Gonzalez, Thomas Grippi and Tommy Wrzesien were honorable mentions.
At the NCAA championships, Albis rolled through the competition at 125 pounds, including a pin in the finals, to earn the Most Outstanding Wrestler award. He finished the year with a 39-4 record and reset the JWU career record with 152 wins. The first three-time All-American in program history, he also won his third regional title. This season he was second in Division III with 15 tech falls.
Sidelined last year by injury, Jordan came back to earn his second All-America honor at 133 pounds. He rebounded from a second-round loss at the NCAA Championships to come all the way back to take third. A three-time region champion, Jordan finished the season with a 22-7 mark for 146 career wins, which ranks second.
For the fourth time in his career, Ferinde advanced to the NCAA Championships. Unfortunately, his run came up short of a third All-America award, but he did cap the season with 35 wins, which ranked second on the team. Ferinde ended his career with a 134-47 mark, which ranks him fifth. He joined elite company with his third regional title.
A new edition this season, Burns was a pinning machine. He earned the Most Falls Award for having the most pins this season in Division III and was in the top 10 for the Most Dominant Wrestler. At the NCAA Championships, he won the Gorriaran Award for having the most pins in the shortest amount of time. The winner of the NEWA Most Dominant Award, Burns won the regional title at 149 pounds and finished the year with a 32-5 record, including 24 pins which are second in school history.
Thomas joined elite company by becoming the eighth two-time All-American in program history. He advanced to the NCAA Championships semifinals of the 184-pound bracket before finishing third. Thomas ended the season with a 34-6 record, including 104 takedowns. A two-time region champion and four-time all-region selection, he finished his career fourth in school history with 138 wins.
Earning his second trip to the NCAA Championships was DiNardo at 197 pounds. He picked up a first-round victory, but could not secure All-America honors. He earned his third All-Region accolade and finished the year with a 34-7 record. DiNardo will start his senior year as the JWU active wins leader with 107 triumphs, which rates 14th in school history.
After an early exit at last year's regional, Gargano earned his first trip to the NCAA Championships thanks to a second-place finish at the regional at 174 pounds. He opened the championship with a victory, but lost his next two bouts. Gargano posted a 25-12 record in his final season for 83 career triumphs.
Like DiNardo, Gonzalez made his second appearance at the NCAA Championships. He's earned his second All-Region award at 165 pounds and a trip to the NCAAs by winning the third-place match at the regionals. Gonzalez wrapped up his career with 78 victories, including a 27-12 mark this year.
Originally slotted for 197 pounds, Wrzesien seized an opportunity at 285 pounds. He bumped up midway through the year and rode it to a third-place finish at the NCAA Regional and spot at the NCAA Championships. He tied Albis for the team lead at 39 victories, the second most by a JWU rookie.
Each year Grippi progressed up the regional rankings and nearly qualified for the NCAA Championships in his final season. He racked up a 20-16 record in 2018-19 on his way to a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Regionals at 156 pounds. Grippi ended his career with an 80-55 record, ranking him 25th in school history.
In addition, the NEWA All-Rookie team was announced with several Wildcats making the list: Craig Sampson (141 pounds), Darius Joyce (149 pounds), Steven Ocampo (165 pounds), Nick Munsch (184 pounds), Jayson Gomez (285 pounds), Tommy Wrzesien (285 pounds).