The men’s wrestling team opened its season with a fifth-place finish out of 12 teams at the Roger Williams Invitational on Saturday. Isaiah Bellamy ’18 led the team, taking second place in the 197-pound weight class. Bellamy won four highly competitive matches before falling in the final match of his bracket. Bellamy posted scores of 3-2, 4-1, and 3-2 before winning via pin during the second period in the semifinals. Bellamy fell to Roger Williams’ returning All-American David Welch, who finished last season by taking seventh place in the 184-pound weight class at the NCAA Division III Wrestling Championships.
Among Wesleyan’s 21 wrestlers, five took home top-six finishes within their weight class. In addition to Bellamy, the Cardinals had three wrestlers finish in fourth place within their weight class: Taran Carr ’16 went 5-2 at 165 pounds, while Captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15 went 3-2 at 174 pounds, and Matt Pelton ’17 fared similarly, going 3-1 at 141 pounds. Chris Siracusa ’16 contributed to the Cardinals’ success on the day, going 3-2 at 157 pounds to take fifth place out of 37 wrestlers within his weight class. In addition to those taking top-six places, three Wesleyan wrestlers earned three victories apiece that day. Ed Pierce ’17 at 149 pounds, in addition to Simon Levin ’16 and Dominic Pirraglia ’18 each at 184 pounds, narrowly missed taking home a top-six finish.
Carr pinned his first opponent before closely winning his second-round match by a 4-2 decision. After losing his next match, Carr picked up another pin followed by a 9-1 decision before falling via a 14-8 decision in the third-place consolation match.
Sblendorio won his first match by a 9-2 decision before falling 12-6 in the following round. However, the captain rebounded with a 10-4 in his next match followed by a 4-3 win before falling in the third-place consolation game.
Pelton posted a 12-2 decision in his first match before winning via pin in his second. Following a 22-5 loss via decision, Pelton posted an 11-4 victory before falling in the third-place consolation match.
Frank Crippen ’17 earned two wins at 133 pounds; Captain James Hamilton ’16 earned one victory within the weight class as well. Zach Larabee ’16 produced a victory at 149 pounds, and Mike Baratz ’15 fought his way to two wins at 157 pounds, along with Carter Armendarez ’18 and Zach Bloom ’18. Joe Koshakow ’17 earned two wins at 165 pounds, while Keonmin Hwang ’16 and Matt Winchester ’18 each earned one. In the heavyweight division, Thor Lichtenstein ’17 and Joe Bongo ’18 each earned a victory.
Crippen reflected on the team’s performance in addition to his own.
“It was a great season opener for us,” he said. “We placed fifth out of 12 teams, so it was a great performance all around. I personally felt my technique was there this tournament, but my stamina wasn’t quite where it needs to be.”
He added that stamina will be something to work on as the season progresses.
“These tournaments remind us how long a seven-minute match is and gets us back in the swing of going all out for seven minutes,” he said. “That’s something that is really important when the dual meet season comes around.”
Crippen explained the benefits of coming in with more experience.
“It’s great being a returning wrestler,” he said. “You already know being a Division III athlete works, from overnight trips, to taking care of yourself socially in season. It’s really [crucial] to a smooth transition into the season.”
Next up for the Cardinals is the Doug Parker Invitational in Springfield, Mass. on Saturday. The team hopes for another inspiring performance on the mats.