If you haven’t been exposed to the mind-boggling gift of athleticism every wrestler at Wesleyan possesses, then you’re most definitely unaware of the fact that the home matches are held on the basketball court. Yes, the 125 to 197-pound Cardinals actually rolled the wrestling mats out to center court for a beat down on Springfield College this past Saturday night.
“I like home wrestling matches,” said Carter Armendarez ’18. “But I don’t like having to roll the mats out.”
The procedural set-up necessary for the match proved to warm the guys up for some decisive technical falls and an overall 37-8 win over the Majestic Lions. The echoing in Silloway Gymnasium was matched with contagious adrenaline from every wrestler as they tackled the competition to the mat. Still in the midst of a long and demanding season, the Cards deserved the crowd support they received as the squad wrapped up this convincing and praiseworthy victory at home.
Although fans only tend to see the shiny wipeout of a score in Wesleyan’s favor, every individual match contributes. In the 125-pound weight class, Zachary Murillo ’19 won by decision (7-4) against a Springfield first-year to commence the overall scoring at 3-0.
Following Murillo was Frank Crippen ’17 at 133-lbs, who lost by decision (4-1) to a senior who finished fifth at the NCAA Northeast Regionals last season. Crippen’s match-up brought the teams to a tie at 3-3. James Matias ’19 (141-pounds), the brains behind using a mustache as a metaphor for the team, won by decision (8-6) against another first-year to pull the Cards back in front, 6-3.
Armendarez stepped up next in the 149-pound weight class, losing by a technical fall (16-0) to a junior who last year came in top-four at both the Ithaca Invitational and the Williams Invitational. Springfield picked up five points with the technical fall and was back ahead at 6-8.
From there, the Cards did not see a single loss. Chris Siracusa ’16 entered the 157-pound weight class, and defeated his opponent by major decision (12-0), putting the Redbirds in the lead at 10-8. Roy Forys ’19 (165-lbs) followed, winning by decision (11-8) and bumping the Wes advantage to five.
Next up was Taran Carr ’16 (174-lbs), who pinned his opponent, racking up six points and further extending the Cardinal lead to 19-8. In the 184-pound weight class, Dominic Pirraglia ’18 seemed to like Carr’s tactics and proceeded to pin his opponent for another six points, sending the Cardinals well on their way with a 17-point advantage. Isaiah Bellamy ’18 (197-pounds) won by forfeit and scooped up another six points to bring Wesleyan to a 31-8 lead.
Known as a star on the football team in the fall, Devon Carrillo ’18 concluded the dual meet in the 285-lbs weight class with a decisive pin against a senior, who last season was the runner-up at the Ithaca Invitational. Carrillo’s victory was the kiss of death for Springfield and set the scoreboard at 37-8 for a final score.
The wrestlers are modest winners and even a blowout against Springfield for their home opener won’t bring them to boast much. Bellamy had little to say about himself or his teammates. His focus was on the support in the bleachers.
“We really appreciated all the support we got this weekend against Springfield,” he said. “The fans defined the intimidating and energetic atmosphere we wish we could have at every meet. A huge thank you to all who came out.”
Attempting to wrangle out sentiments from these hardcore athletes about their performance or the season ahead is difficult. They are dedicated and ruthless when it comes to training, and most impressively focused. Efforts to pry into the mind of Armendarez resulted in a crisp and succinct recollection of the dual meet, ending with the team’s skillful and flawless domination on Saturday.
“A guy on our team has chicken pox and we beat Springfield pretty bad,” Armendarez said. The first statement has yet to be confirmed, but the second is absolutely irrefutable.
The Cards head to a familiar foe’s turf this Saturday, Feb. 6. Williams is hosting Wesleyan, SUNY-Oneonta, and Ithaca College for a quad meet. Wes has already seen Williams, a team that is currently ranked 10th in the nation. The Cards placed behind them at the Doug Parker Invitational in November, as the Ephs came in second and the Cards rolled in at 5th out of 18 teams. At NEWA duals, Wes lost to Williams in a battle for third place. This weekend, the Cards are in the hunt for an upset win against their Little Three rival. A pair of W’s against SUNY-Oneonta and Ithaca would simply ice the cake for the diligent wrestlers. It’s been a week-to-week battle, but these guys aren’t tired yet.