On Valentine’s Day, the wrestlers took out their opponents in three straight assertive wins, shutting out Norwich College (23-14), SUNY Oswego (42-6), and Lycoming College (21-16). The Silloway Gymnasium was packed with parents and friends rooting for their respective teams as sweaty athletes crawled into the bleachers to receive hugs of congratulation and nudges of motivation. The four teams wrestled side by side, creating quite the spectacle on the basketball court as Wesleyan in particular lit up the scoreboards.
The first matchup was against the Norwich Cadets, and the Cardinals put in work to start the Sunday competition right. Frank Crippen ’17 racked up nine points at the 133-pound weight class, winning by decision and getting a loudspeaker shout-out for earning a sixth place ranking in his weight class for all of New England. Seeded fifth in New England for the 141-pound weight class, James Matias ’19 dominated his opponent with a 13-4 major decision. Carter Armendarez ’18 (149-lbs) followed with another major decision win, walking away with a score of 10-2.
Meanwhile, Chris Siracusa ’16 (157-lbs) was sprinting up and down the court, pacing with his hood propped over his eyes, and bobbing around to the beat of whatever pump-up song he had blasting in his headphones. The senior’s seemingly limitless energy transferred over to the mats with ease. He riled himself up enough to take down his opponent, winning by decision at a score of 5-1 and pushing Wes into a lead of 14-4. Siracusa is ranked fifth for the 157-pound weight class in all of New England.
Taran Carr ’16 (174-lbs), another celebrated senior at the Cardinals’ last home match, shut out his competition with a 5-0 decision. Carr currently possesses a second-place ranking in his 174-pound weight class for New England.
Further solidifying the win against Norwich was Devon Carrillo ’18 (197-lbs), who had been wildly jumping around on the edge of the mat and slapping every muscle, anxiously awaiting his opponent. Carrillo’s intimidating tactics and charged-up routine is not foreign to those who have seen him on the football field. His athleticism and obvious appetite for victory guided him through 4:58 minutes when he finally pinned his opponent, sending the crowd and his teammates on the bench into an uproar. This result was no aberration, as Carrillo is currently ranked third in the 285-pound weight class for New England.
The SUNY Oswego Lakers “found no love at Wesleyan,” according to a headline from the school’s website. With a 42-6 win, the Cards definitely showed no mercy. Crippen (133-lbs) swiftly pinned his opponent in just 48 seconds. Matias (141-lbs) continued the team’s tallying of pins, sticking his opponent’s back on the mat at 2:27. Carr (174-lbs) and Isiaiah Bellamy ’18, who was wrestling at heavyweight for the day, tacked on two more pins at 2:51 and 4:34, respectively.
Dylan Jones ’19 (125-lbs), Armendarez (149-lbs), Siracusa (157-lbs), and Roy Forys ’19 (165-lbs) all won by decision. All together, Wes started the match out with a hot streak of seven wins in a row and sent Oswego home with an impressive total of four matches won by a pin, not an easy feat.
Lycoming gave the Redbirds a battle, but the wrestlers topped the Warriors in a close call (21-16). Jones (125-lbs), Crippen (133-lbs), and Matias (141-lbs) all won by decision.
Armendarez lost by major decision to the eighth-ranked wrestler in nation at 149-pounds, but Siracusa (157-lbs) picked the points right back up with his major decision win. Forys (165-lbs), Carr (174-lbs), and Keonmin Hwang ’16 (184-lbs) all fell to their opponents, with Forys facing the second-best wrestler in the 165-lbs weight class in the country for their division.
A win by technical fall at 2:24 for Carrillo and a win by decision for Bellamy helped turn things around. Together, the sophomores pushed their trailing team (13-16) into the lead and secured a climactic last victory on home mats. Despite the excitement of bringing his team back from a deficit and straight to a win, Bellamy could only define the day as one for the admired senior Cards.
“It’s been absolutely incredible to start out my first two seasons of college wrestling with Cuse [Siracusa], Keonmin [Hwang], and Taran [Carr] as my leaders,” he said. “I’m not sure they realize how much their hard work pays off. It doesn’t just show in their performance, but it’s also apparent in the fact that myself and others look up to them on a daily basis. Not a chance I could handle the academic workload Keonmin does and still compete in wrestling, nor will I ever be able to perfect a front-head like Cuse, or go out there every match with the tenacity Taran does. I look up to all three and strive to perform up to their standards. Huge shout out to [John] San Filippo [’16] as well for being in the room everyday, helping coach, and making everyone better. I love them all.”
Next weekend on Sunday, Feb. 21, the well-deserving seniors will lead their team at the NEWA Futures Tournament at Roger Williams University. The following weekend marks the start of the Northeast Regional Championships. The Cards have earned themselves the title of some of the top wrestlers in New England. Per usual, the wrestlers will head out this upcoming weekend to secure even higher rankings, even more pins, and even more respect.