A week after dropping three dual matches at home, the Cardinal wrestling squad rebounded nicely to pick up two victories this past weekend. After missing all three matches a week prior, Chris Siracusa ’16 had a dominant weekend on the mat, finishing with a record of 3-0 in the final quad-match of the year for the Cardinals.
Siracusa’s return helped the Cardinals to wide-margined victories over SUNY Oswego, 33-12, and Hunter College, 33-14. However, Johnson & Wales, ranked 15th in the country, was able to edge out Wesleyan by a score of 25-15. The 2-1 team performance for the weekend means Wesleyan will end the 2014-15 season with an 8-11 record in dual-matches.
In addition to Siracusa, standout wrestler Isaiah Bellamy ’18 continued his outstanding season on the mat. Bellamy improved his personal dual-match record to 9-1, and his overall win-loss ratio on the season to a remarkable 19-4. Bellamy earned a victory by technical fall against Oswego in the heavyweight class, followed by picking up a pin at 197 pounds against Hunter. He finished his day with a win via decision against Johnson & Wales.
Captain Ryan Sblendorio ’15 and Frank Crippen ’17 ended the day with records of 2-1. Sblendorio, wrestling at 174 pounds, picked up pins in each of his first two matches before falling 6-5 in his final contest of the day against JWU. Sblendorio’s afternoon concluded a fine dual-match season, earning eight wins and just two losses.
Crippen, who picked up victories in his first two matches, also lost by a score of 6-5 in his last match against JWU. Crippen finished his dual-match season with a record of 14-5.
Sblendorio, nearing the end of his college wrestling career, took some time to reflect upon his experience competing as a Wesleyan Cardinal, this year and overall. He was reflective in considering his positions as a wrestler, a teammate, and a leader.
“I think I’ve improved in all areas,” Sblendorio said. “That just comes with time and experience. [Being a captain] isn’t any different, every match always matters.”
Sblendorio said he believes the team must stay focused on what lies ahead in order to succeed in the postseason this year.
“The team just needs to keep their goals in sight,” he said. “At this point, it’s about staying positive and coming together as a team, which I think we are doing.”
The captain offered admiration of the contributions his younger teammates have made, particularly noting underclassmen Isaiah Bellamy and Frank Crippen.
“Crippen and Bellamy are setting a great example for the team through the way they compete,” Sblendorio said. “It’s hard to not get amped when you see the younger guys getting out there and scrapping with tough competition. Age doesn’t matter for these kids because they simply love to win.”
Finally, Sblendorio stated what he’s looking forward to most at the bittersweet end to his collegiate wrestling career.
“The only thing I’m worried about is not holding back anything, because time is limited, but that doesn’t really matter,” he said. “It comes down to putting a solid string of matches [together] for one weekend, then doing it again at NCAAs. If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a college wrestler, it’s just being tough when the odds are stacked against you.”
Up next for the Cardinals is a visit to Roger Williams this Sunday, for the annual NEWA Futures Tournament. The following weekend, the Cardinals will return to RWU for the Northeast Regional Tournament, with the top three individuals in each weight class advancing to the NCAA Division III Championships. The Cardinals are certainly hoping for their wrestlers to finish the season with their best performances.