Ithaca's Jones Named ECWC Rookie of the Year, Nichols Tabbed ECWC Coach of the Year
April 06, 2020


ITHACA, N.Y. – The Empire Collegiate Wrestling Conference (ECWC) officially announced its annual year-end major award winners on Monday afternoon. For a fourth consecutive year, Ithaca had representation in the release, as the Bombers took home two of the three major awards from the conference this season. First-year Travis Jones was tabbed ECWC Rookie of the Year, while head coach Marty Nichols was selected as the Coach of the Year in the conference.

The announcement comes after a week-long process of voting amongst the conference's head coaches and athletic communications personnel. Each institution had the opportunity to turn in two votes – one coach vote and one athletic communication vote – with a weighted point system factoring five-points for a first-place vote and three-points for a second-place vote. Jones appeared on the ballot in 12 of the 13 total collected votes, while he accrued the highest share of first-place votes (9) to out-pace Oswego State's talented first-year Charlie Grygas, 54 Points -to- 41 Points, to earn the Rookie of the Year honor. Nichols also took home the largest share of the coaching votes (43 Points), appearing on nine ballots and earning first-place on eight of those to out-pace Brockport's long-time head coach Don Murray (27 Points) and RIT's Jason Bovenzi (20 Points). It was the second straight year that an IC wrestler took home honors for the ECWC's top rookie, as sophomore Eze Chukwuezi earned the honor a year ago. For Nichols, it is the second time in three seasons that he has been tabbed the Coach of the Year in the ECWC.

Jones put together one of the finest debut seasons in the long and illustrious history of the IC program in 2019-20. The Phillipsburg, New Jersey, product posted a 36-5 overall record on the season, with well over half of that prodigious number of victories coming with bonus points. The rookie racked up 14 falls, 10 technical falls and five major decisions, ranking among the nation's best throughout the season in the technical fall statistic.

Jones excellent campaign took shape right from the opening weekend, as he earned a third-place finish at the Ithaca Invitational. It would be the first of five place-finishes for the rookie grappler on the year. He went on to score 133-pound titles at three of those events. Jones' first title came at the New York State Championships in November. The second-half of the season featured a strong stretch-run surge that included an ECWC Championship in January and an impressive run to the 133-pound title at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships inside the A&E Center's Glazer Arena to bring the season full circle. Jones named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the NCAA Regional, rolling to a 4-0 record with all four triumph coming with bonus points. Most impressive was the title bout, as he pinned then-third-ranked Matt Giordano of TCNJ in the first-period to take home the title. Jones finished the season with wins in his final 16 bouts and 19-of-20 dating back to beginning of January. Academically, Jones was also represented Ithaca on both the ECWC All-Academic Team and was named an NWCA Scholar All-American.

Nichols is no stranger to earning accolades as the head coach of the Bomber program. He most-recently was tabbed Coach of the Year by the conference during IC's impressive 2018 campaign. This season, Nichols guided the program to a 12-4 record in duals, before capping the year with a co-team title at the NCAA Regionals, as the Bombers tied TCNJ with same total points on the final day of action. Nichols was named the NCAA Mideast Regional Coach of the Tournament at the conclusion of the event. The dual-meet record brings Nichols within 26 wins of reaching the 300-mark for his career.

Under Nichols watch, Ithaca was ranked among the nation's Top-20 programs the entire season, finishing the year in a tie for the 12th spot in the final NWCA Coaches Poll. The Bombers six qualifiers to the NCAA Championships – which ultimately was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic – ranked in a tie for fourth-best in the nation.

Senior 165-pounder Dempsey King of Rochester Institute of Technology took home the Wrestler of the Year award for the ECWC in 2019-20. The reigning 2019 NCAA Runner-Up at 165-pounds out-paced a trio of strong candidates in Brockport's 125-pounder Matt Caccamise, Ithaca's 184-pounder Eze Chukwuezi, and SUNY Cortland 174-pounder Demitreus Henry for the top spot. King garnered 11 total votes with eight of those registering as first-place votes. He finished with 49 Points, well ahead of Brockport's Caccamise (19 Points), Ithaca's Chukwuezi (19 Points), and Cortland's Henry (17 Points). Notably, all four grapplers were weight-class champions at the NCAA Mideast Regional Championships.

King capped an accolade-filled career with the Tigers in 2019-20, finishing the year with a 31-1 record, which included 15 falls, three technical falls, and four major decisions. He earned place-finishes at four events, securing 165-pound titles at the New York State Championships, Roger Williams Invite, RIT Invitational, and the aforementioned NCAA Mideast Regionals. Like Ithaca's Jones, he was also a strong academic achiever with ECWC All-Academic Team and NWCA Scholar All-American laurels at the conclusion of the year.