As the wrestling regular season enters its final weeks, the competition is heating up between squads in the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA). Last weekend, the Cardinals were given the difficult task of wrestling on back-to-back days, beginning at the SUNY Oneonta quad meet and followed by a match at SUNY Cortland. In a weekend full of close matches and surprising upsets, Wesleyan ended up going 1-3 between the two days, facing some very tough opponents in the process.
“This weekend was a slight disappointment, even though we wrestled some very good teams,” said Edward Pierce ’17. “Teams like Johnson and Wales proved to be a big challenge for us, and we wrestled them all tough. There were just some matches here and there that could have gone either way, and unfortunately they didn’t favor us.”
Pierce wrestled two matches on Saturday, losing the first in a one-point toss up versus Oneonta and the second to a returning All-American from Williams in the 157-pound weight class.
“In order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best,” Pierce said. “We all know that we have to follow the process, and know that results will come.”
Pierce also credited Taran Carr ’16 for his comeback pin in the 165-pound class against SUNY Cortland.
“We wrestled Cortland hard, and to see Taran come back and pin that guy while down is awesome,” Pierce said. “It shows how hard our guys are working on a daily basis.”
The trend for the 2013-14 wrestlers has been constant throughout the season. There’s no lack of effort and intensity, but due to injuries and forfeited weight classes, it has been difficult for the team to compete in the rigorous NEWA conference. Nevertheless, the win against Oneonta on Saturday proved to be a solid showing of what this team can do.
“Beating Oneonta was a great team effort, and showed the resolve of our guys,” said Joe Koshakow ’17. “Even though it was frustrating for me to lose my matches, I’m just going to keep working and I know all the guys on the teams will too.”
Many of the team’s younger wrestlers came through and had big matches against Oneonta. Frank Crippen ’17 was one of these individuals, and he was able to score a key decision over his opponent in the 125-pound weight class.
“I was winning the match by four after a five-point suplex, but he put up a much tougher fight in the second period,” Crippen said. “I knew that for us to win as a team, I needed to grind through the pain and finish my match.”
In this challenging bout, it was Crippen who managed to finish strong, getting an escape in the waning final seconds of the match for the victory.
“It felt great getting an escape in the last few seconds to get the win,” Crippen said. “It’s a great confidence boost that I’m hoping will slingshot me into next weekend, which will be our last chance to get some good matches in before the Northeast Regional Tournament.”
James Hamilton ’16, Ryan Sblendorio ’15, and Josh Roometua ’16 all went 2-1 on Saturday at 125, 174 and 197, respectively. After his solid day, Roometua had only positive remarks about his team’s performance.
“We had a great weekend,” Roometua said. “We’ve been working real hard this whole season and it’s really starting to show. We are peaking at the right time, and our win against Oneonta is demonstrated how tough [the younger guys] are wrestling.”
Coming up, the Cardinal grapplers have to defend their home turf against the likes of Johnson and Wales University, SUNY Oswego, and Hunter College this Sunday, Feb. 16. Alex Cannon ’14, who has been sidelined with a concussion, is nonetheless excited for the meet.
“The team is looking forward to our home meet this weekend,” Cannon said. “It’s always exciting to get the opportunity to showcase your talents in your own gym. This weekend marks our last matches before Regionals, so we are focused on proving that we’re ready to peak come March 1.”
Wrestling will have to battle in order to compete during the next few weeks, but if the Cards’ past efforts are any indication of what is to come, the team should be well-equipped to make some noise in the regional tournament and beyond.