If history is any indicator, the Cardinal wrestlers opened the season exactly how they wanted to. Last year, en route to what would become a NEWA Championship-winning season, the team started in the same spot—at Springfield College during the Doug Parker Invitational Tournament. In 2011 the Cardinals placed fifth out of 15 teams. This year, the wrestling team did one better, earning fourth out of 16 teams and trailing by merely 0.5 points behind host Springfield College for third place. Centenary College of New Jersey ultimately took home the team title on the day.

The results prove hopeful, even though onlookers may see a fourth-place finish for a championship-defending team and assume its fortune has fallen. The 128 team points accumulated on Saturday prove to be more than the team could have hoped for to begin its season.

“We’re happy with fourth, but not satisfied,” admitted wrestler Zach Larabee ’15. “We haven’t had many practices compared to other teams, but we’re up there with the best, competing and getting it together. Keeping the ball rolling is our goal at this point and to keep getting better every day.”

Six Cardinal wrestlers excelled in their contests, finishing amongst the top four in their respective weight classes. The highlight of the day came from Maika Nagata ’13, who pinned his way to the finals of the 133-pound weight class, only to lose a 6-3 decision in the championship. He ultimately finished with a 5-1 mark. Four other Wesleyan seniors finished their competition with 5-1 marks and captured third place in their weight classes. The wrestlers include Jefferson Ajayi ’13 at 184 pounds, Kyle Roosa ’13 at 174, Howard Tobochnik ’13 at 157, and Nick Scotto ’13 at 141.

Even the freshman wrestlers have come into the season ready to work and improve, and the results are showing on the mat. Josh Roometua ’16 led the class by taking fourth-place during the Doug Parker Invitational in the 197-pound weight class.

“The freshmen are working hard and it’s showing out on mat with the success they’re having,” Larabee noted.

The Cardinals hope this youthful exuberance can propel them through inevitable times of stagnation during such an arduous season.

The team is happy with its first result, but knows a long road still lies ahead. The end goal for the 2012 season is a repeat performance of last year, and the team knows that the NEWA Championship meet in February is still a long way ahead. In the meantime, the Cardinals are focused on improving with every practice and seeing results in every match. Their next opportunity to gauge this improvement comes on Saturday, Dec. 1. The team travels north to Rochester, NY when it takes part in the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational.

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