At the Roger Williams Invitational last weekend, the wrestling team finished fifth of 12 teams, accruing 79.5 points on the day. As many aspects as there were in the tournament that the Cardinal wrestlers hoped had gone differently, Chris Siracusa ’16 saw his team’s effort in a positive light.

“It was a great learning experience for everyone,” Siracusa said. “Right now, we’re just looking forward to moving along in the season and winning more matches this year.”

The Cardinals were able to stay competitive despite losing multiple wrestlers, such as heavyweight John San Filippo ’16 and 125-pounder Frank Crippen ’17, to injuries. Each of the teams that finished ahead of Wesleyan were ranked in the top-20 nationally, with Messiah coming in at fifth in the country, Johnson & Wales at 13th, Cortland at number three, and Roger Williams at 18th. The top-five finish was possible largely because of the efforts of five Cardinal grapplers that placed in the top six, including Siracusa, who was the runner-up at the 149-pound weight class in a 27-man bracket, going 4-1 including a pin and a major decision.

“[Siracusa’s] results are a direct reflection of his process,” said Head Coach Drew Black. “He trains hard, does the extra, and is very tough as well as coachable. You’ll be hearing a lot from him.”

Joining Siracusa in the top six were Captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15 at 174 pounds and Josh Roometua ’16 at 197 pounds, who both placed fifth in their respective weight classes.

“Ryan had a great 5-3 win over the number-one seed Lou Puca of Cortland, who is also the second-ranked wrestler in the nation,” Black said. “He’s not too far from being a top guy in the country.”

Matthew Pelton ’17 and Edward Pierce ’17 were also able to battle through their first collegiate tournament to place fifth and sixth at 141 pounds.

“Obviously I came into the day believing I could compete, but placing fifth in my first tournament exceeded most of my expectations,” Pelton said. “It was a great feeling.”

Regardless of some setbacks at Roger Williams, Black’s squad remains optimistic.

“We came away a little banged up from this first competition, but we will get our guys healthy,” Black said. “There is a learning curve [with this young team] that will happen in terms of technique and intensity, but these guys will adapt, make adjustments, and will be a different team as we move through the year.”

With the first tournament under their belt, the Cardinal wrestlers look ahead to the Doug Parker Invitational at Springfield College on Saturday, Nov. 23 in order to keep their momentum going in what has been a strong start to their young season.

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