The wrestling team started off its new year with back-to-back weekends of tournaments filled with star-studded competition. The guys are approaching the remainder of their season with a compelling 2016 resolution: Work hard, work smart, work together. Just before the January tournaments kicked off, video producer Geoffrey Riccio released a promotional video of the Cardinal wrestlers. To say that the promo was inspiring would be a gross understatement. This film delved into the behind-the-scenes grind of everyday practice, the unbreakable bonds of teammates, and the drive to live up to high athletic and academic expectations. The video commences with Coach Drew Black boasting about his wrestlers.

“We have guys that have high goals,” Black stated. “You ask them what they want to do coming in as a freshman and they will tell you that, ‘Well, I want to go to medical school and I want to be a surgeon. I want to be a big time lawyer.’ So they set the bar pretty high. So me as a wrestling coach, I’m trying to develop that culture of setting that bar high from the athletic side.”

The Cardinals’ performance in the past three weeks has been an example of more than just their hard work; the team is coming after competition with an unmatchable hunger for success encouraged by their exemplary coach.

On Jan. 8 and 9, the Cards traveled to Williamsport, Pa. for the Budd Whitehill National Duals at Lycoming College. The first day was scattered with wins, as the University beat Thiel College, 28-12, and defeated Rochester Institute of Technology, 30-13. Wesleyan fell to the 14th nationally ranked team, College of New Jersey, 25-12. Captain Chris Siracusa ’16 continued his winning streak on the second day, going 5-0 overall for the tournament while his team picked up a rhythm after the loss. The Cards came back on Saturday and downed Millikin University, 28-12. The Cards then dropped a contest to Olivet College, 31-8. The team earned itself sixth place out of sixteen teams, falling behind four nationally ranked teams.

In addition to his impressive 5-0 record at the tournament, Siracusa also landed himself a spot on the 2016 All-Tournament Team alongside a few nationally-ranked individual wrestlers. In order to qualify for All-Tournament Team honors, Siracusa had to be undefeated in his weight class and earn the most team points per match, both of which he accomplished.

The following weekend, Jan. 16, the boys headed over to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a quad meet against WPI, Trinity, and fifth-ranked Roger Williams. The Cards lost to Roger Williams, 27-15, in the first round of the tournament, but followed with two wins against WPI (18-16) and Trinity (40-5).

The matchup with the hosting team turned out to be a nail-biter that weekend, as the Cards were trailing WPI with only two matches remaining. Carter Armendarez ’18 and Siracusa clinched the final two matches to bring Wes back from behind and grab the win against WPI. However, the comeback victory still may not have been as sweet as the absolute decimation of the rival Bantams.

This past weekend, the Cards were at it again at the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Dual Meet Tournament held by Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts.

Wes went into the tournament as the fourth seed and easily swept the 13th seeded Trinity, again. Next, the Cards walked over the fifth seed, Springfield College, 28-17. In the third round, the Cards had to face the top-seeded Roger Williams team. Wes fell 31-9 and Roger Williams continued on to win the tournament. In the consolation round, the Cards fought for a third place finish but lost in a neck-and-neck matchup with Williams, who entered the tournament as the third seed. The Cards rolled in at 4th out of a total of fourteen teams, earning our wrestlers a spot at the top among the best of the best.

“We finished 4th in the NEWA duals,” James Matias ’19 reflected. “We all performed pretty well and went into the tournament with some really good energy. Although we didn’t win, we took solace in the two victories we did have. I had fun eating food all day and cheering everyone on. Personally, I went 3-1. I was pretty pissed after I lost. I think we can all bounce back from our respective losses in time for February and hopefully peak.”

Clearly, one heck of a record this January isn’t enough for the Wes wrestlers. They don’t want anything less than victories and higher placements among their upper-level competition. The guys are facing many more weekends of grueling matchups and opportunities to record more pins this semester.

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