Over break, wrestling climbed to an even 6-6 season record.

The wrestling team came back to campus early this winter to perfect its craft and compete in several meets. Just before the break, the team traveled to Rochester, N.Y. to partake in the Rochester Institute of Technology Invitational Tournament, where the team took third place out of 10 teams.

Frank Crippen ’17 led the way for the Cardinals, taking first place in the 133-pound weight class. Crippen went 3-0 in a weight class that included nine wrestlers, winning by way of a first-period fall, followed by a 7-2 decision, and winning a 6-5, two-tie-breaker championship match.

Including Crippen, Wesleyan had 10 of its 22 wrestlers take home top-six finishes. For the third straight tournament, Isaiah Bellamy ’18 went 3-1 to reach the championship in the 197-pound weight class. However, in the championship round, Bellamy was forced to concede defeat due to an injury in the third period. In addition, the Cardinals had two wrestlers take home fourth-place finishes: Ryan Sblendorio ’15 at 174 pounds and Simon Levin ’16 at 184 pounds. Four more Wesleyan wrestlers finished in fifth place: Matthew Pelton ’17 at 141 pounds, Edward Pierce ’17 at 149, Taran Carr ’16 at 165, and Dominic Pirraglia ’18 at 184. The final two wrestlers who placed for the Cardinals were John San Filippo ’16 at heavyweight and James Hamilton ’16 at 133 pounds, with both wrestlers finishing the tournament at sixth place in their weight class.

After a two-week layoff due to the holiday season, the wrestlers returned to campus and competed in five dual matches over two days, Friday, Jan. 9 and Saturday, Jan. 10. The five matches were part of the annual Bud Whitehill National Duals, hosted by Lycoming College in Williamsport, Penn.

The Cardinals went 2-3 over the course of the five matches, finishing 10th out of 16 teams who competed. On Friday, Wesleyan lost a close match with Cortland State, falling by a score of 22-19. In the following match, the team fell to seventh-ranked and eventual tournament champion Messiah College, 49-0. However, the team followed up that disappointing defeat with a 40-9 victory over Alfred State. The following day, Wesleyan defeated SUNY Oswego 36-12 before tying Ohio Northern University (ONU) at 22 points apiece. ONU ended up finishing the tournament one spot ahead of the Cardinals on a points criteria from the match, leaving the Cardinals with their 10th-place finish.

Crippen again led the way for the Cardinals, this time with some help from his fellow wrestlers. Crippen was among a group of Cardinal wrestlers who each compiled a 4-1 record over the two days. Also among the group were Pierce, Sblendorio, and Levin.

Levin was able to pin three of his five opponents over the two days, as well as winning a match by forfeit, giving the Cardinals a combined 24 team points by himself. His only loss was to tournament champion Messiah, a hard-fought, 6-1 decision. Sblendorio finished with two pins himself in addition to a technical fall and a decision, good for 20 team points. Crippen was able to put one opponent on his back and win three more victories via decision, contributing 15 points.

Throughout the two days, the Cardinals were forced to overcome a forfeit at 125 pounds. As a result, the team trailed early by a score of 17-8 after six matches. However, pins from Sblendorio and Levin propelled the team to a 19-18 lead. After a victory by Pirraglia gave the Cardinals a four-point cushion, San Filippo had to take on a returning All-American and the top-ranked heavyweight in Division III. Losing by a score of 12-0, ONU was able to tie the match. Due to a technicality in the rulebook, ONU was granted the victory since matches can no longer end in a tie.

The following weekend, the Cardinals opened their dual-match portion of the schedule at Roger Williams on Saturday, Jan. 17. Wesleyan cruised past Daniel Webster 51-0, defeated WPI 22-15, but lost to Roger Williams 30-15. Levin ended the day with a 3-0 record at 184 pounds, including pins against Daniel Webster and Roger Williams. Even wrestling at heavyweight against WPI, Levin obtained a major 12-2 victory. Wesleyan won 13 of its 22 matches on the day.

After an exciting, action-packed period of wrestling over winter break, the Cardinals partook in the 15th annual New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Duals at Springfield this past Sunday. The team posted a record of 2-2, after handing defeats to 10th-seed Western New England University by a score of 23-18, before falling to the tournament’s second seed, Johnson & Wales, 34-13. After losing again to the fifth-seed Williams, the Cardinals were able to edge out WPI again, this time by a score of 22-15. The men were victorious in 16 of their 33 matches wrestled on the day, and Bellamy was named as one of the 14 members of the all-NEWA squad.

The winter yielded a particularly successful period of wrestling for the Cardinals, who will return to Springfield for a dual meet on Friday.

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