At the Doug Parker Invitational hosted by Springfield College, the Wesleyan wrestling team faced adversity, but was able to place 10th out of seventeen teams by accumulating 56.5 team points. The Cardinals had two place winners as captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15 took second at 174 and Josh Roometua ’16 took fifth at 197. Unfortunately, it was a significant drop-off from the five that placed at the Roger Williams Invitational on Nov. 16.

“The team competed hard but did not come out with the results we expect as Wesleyan wrestlers,” Sblendorio said. “We’re a young team so there’s still a lot we need to learn going into the dual meet season.”

The Cardinals faced many of the top teams in the country including Springfield, Roger Williams, and Stevens Institute of Technology. This was one of the tougher tournaments they will wrestle all season. Injuries have been a nagging issue for the Cardinals, and it showed in Springfield; only twelve wrestlers were entered into the tournament, and three weight classes (125, 184, and heavyweight) didn’t have a Cardinal grappler inserted, influencing the final team scores significantly. However, nine of the 10 wrestlers who didn’t place were able to win at least one match, and seven of them went 2-2 or better.

“At this point, we just need to get healthy and sharpen things up and we will be looking strong for this weekend and beyond,” Sblendorio added.

Just as Sblendorio has high expectations for his team, he didn’t spare any criticism of his own performance, despite his strong finishes in each of the past two tournaments.

“I don’t think I performed anywhere close to where I should have, but it is the beginning of the season, so I am looking to build off from here as well,” Splendorio Said.

While Head Coach Drew Black also has higher expectations for his team, he understands the circumstances surrounding this year.

“We have a younger team this season, so most first-year college wrestlers, especially in their first few competitions, are not going to get seeded and thus face very tough, nationally-ranked or higher-seeded wrestlers in the first and second round of a tournament competition,” Black said.

Roometua, Wesleyan’s other place-winner, placed fifth last week as well, and while he didn’t improve on his previous finish, Black thinks Roometua is doing just fine.

“He had some opportunities in tight matches in the last two weeks, but at this point in the season, Josh is in a real good place and he is only going to get better,” Black said of his 197-pounder. “He has earned a target on his back this year due to his qualification to the NCAA Championships as a freshman last year.”

As the wrestling season heats up and Wesleyan’s first dual meet approaches, the Cardinals will try to get back on track at the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational this Saturday, Dec. 7.

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