The wrestling season is coming to a close, and teams are attempting to gain momentum going into the postseason. Therefore, it’s no surprise that coming into the weekend, the wrestlers all knew that this home dual meet would be one of their most important matches.
“It’s obviously important to defend our home turf, but the most important thing for us was making sure that we had a solid performance before Northeast Regionals,” said Robert Rosenberg ’17. “I think it’s safe to say that we were successful in that regard.”
The wrestlers were able to go 2-1 in their only home meet as they battled against Johnson & Wales, Hunter College, and SUNY Oswego. Several members of Wesleyan’s squad had outstanding outings, and the overall effort of the team was evident; the Cardinals came out with a winning record in every weight class except for 125.
“Our team performed really well,” said Captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15. “We’ve been facing a lot of tough competition, but this is exactly what we need going into the end of the season.”
The teams that showed up to Silloway Gymnasium on Sunday, Feb. 16 certainly came to compete; Oswego and Hunter both put up quite the fight, and Johnson & Wales is ranked 16th in the nation.
“Our team is very bottom-heavy, as we have a good amount of freshmen and sophomores,” said James Hamilton ’16. “But guys are really starting to come into their own, and are winning close matches. This kind of preparation will really matter once we get to Nationals.”
Despite giving up a forfeit at the 125-pound weight class, Wesleyan wrestled tough against Johnson & Wales. Taran Carr ’16 started things off with a tightly contested match that he ended up losing by one point; Sblendorio was able to get six points for the Cardinals after an injury default. However, Johnson & Wales was able to recover shortly after, and ended up beating the Cardinals 30-15. Oswego and Hunter were up next, and Wesleyan’s grapplers were able to capture victories with scores of 26-15 and 38-9, respectively.
Seniors Alex Cannon, Troy Sampson and Nick Truer were all honored in a ceremony prior to the meet, and Cannon went on to win his only match of the day in a dominating performance.
“Alex Cannon won the most improved wrestler during his time on the team and is always working hard,” said Head Wrestling Coach Drew Black. “He’s a class act.”
Overall, the majority of Wesleyan’s starting lineup is sitting at just over .500, and spirits remain optimistic for the upcoming regional tournament, as well as the New England Wrestling Association Futures tournament this Sunday, Feb. 23.
“The Futures tournament is important, as it trains our younger and less-experienced wrestlers for bigger things in the future,” Black said. “Most of our guys who do well in that tournament go on to bigger and better things in the future.”
The Cardinals will have the privilege of hosting the Northeast Regional Championship in the Bacon Field House in two weeks, and it seems that Wesleyan is peaking at exactly the right time.