A week after placing seventh in the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Duals, the Cardinal wrestlers lost a tough battle 29-12 to Springfield College on Saturday, Feb. 1. Wesleyan was starting at a disadvantage on the scoreboard, as Springfield picked up forfeited points after going uncontested in a couple of weight classes.

“Our guys wrestled real hard, but when we’re forfeiting two weights to a team like Springfield, it’s much tougher to compete,” said Captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15. “They are always good, year after year.”

Always a powerful contender in New England, Springfield placed second in the NEWA Duals in 2014. The Wesleyan wrestlers figured that beating the Pride would prove to be a tall task. Sblendorio’s bout was a high point for the Cardinals, as he was able win his match by pinning Springfield’s Devin Hurst, but it marked one of only three victories for Wesleyan. Chris Siracusa ’16 started things off at the 149-pound weight class, where he battled hard yet suffered a 7-1 defeat to Zach Joseph. Ed Pierce ’17 and Alex Cannon ’14 followed, wrestling tough but losing to difficult opponents at 157 and 165 pounds, respectively. Taran Carr ’16 snatched a victory at 174 pounds by beating John Dipace 6-2, but after Sblendorio’s pin at 184 pounds, the Cardinals dropped the next four weight classes, losing two of them and forfeiting the others. Matt Pelton ’17 was able to end the meet on a high note, winning his bout 6-2.

“It was a tough and disappointing day for the team,” Pelton said. “But I was the last one to wrestle, so it felt good for us to end on a win.”

Amongst a strong freshman class, Pelton has seen relative success in his first year of collegiate wrestling, winning many of his matches and placing in tournaments while continuing to learn on the mat.

“It feels great to have this kind of success in my first year,” Pelton said. “I’m not moving around to different weights, and I haven’t grown since eighth grade, which lets me focus on getting better in my weight class only.”

Despite his achievements, including the win on Saturday, Pelton is looking ahead to the Duals tournament this weekend, where perennial rival Williams awaits the Cardinals.

“Us versus Williams will be a great match, and I’m really excited to keep on moving forward this season,” Pelton said. “That match will be a fun challenge for the entire team.”

Coming up, the Cardinals will have to face Williams, Oneonta, Ithaca, and Cortland. Despite their initial struggles with injury and inexperience, the Cards remain optimistic with an exciting weekend of wrestling ahead of them.

“It’s simple; every time we step out on the mat, we are working toward a better weekend,” Siracusa said. “Win or lose, we all know that we are improving every single match, and that’s what’s important.”

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