The wrestlers reached the height of their season this past weekend at Springfield College as they competed in the NCAA Division III Regional Championships. The Cards went into the tournament facing top and all-too familiar competition. Of the top teams, number nine Ithaca College placed first with 144 points; number three Roger Williams University finished second with 136.5 points; number six State University of New York at Cortland ended third with 119 points; number twelve Johnson and Wales placed fourth at 104.5 points; number 16 Williams came in fifth with 99.5 points; unranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute placed sixth with 61 points; and Wesleyan placed seventh out of eighteen total teams with 53.5 points. However, this was a tournament defined by individual battles in brackets stacked with nationally acclaimed wrestlers.
Dylan Jones ’19 represented Wes in the 125-pound weight class, winning in the first round against Casey Abshire from the University of Southern Maine with a 10-5 decision. Next, Jones faced Andrew Roden of SUNY Cortland, losing by sudden victory (4-2). Roden continued on to the finals where he lost to the fourth-best wrestler in the country, Bobby Jordan from Johnson and Wales. In the consolation bracket, Jones lost to Plymouth State wrestler Joey Aumann, who went on to place sixth in the weight class.
Frank Crippen ’17 lost his first matchup in the 133-pound weight class bracket to Ithaca wrestler Bryan Israel, who was ranked fifth nationally for his weight class. Israel continued to the finals and came in second for the tournament. Crippen won his first round in the consolation bracket by sudden victory (7-1) against SUNY Oneonta wrestler Anthony Messina. Crippen then lost to Rhode Island College wrestler Stephen Masi by sudden victory (2-1).
James Matias ’19 battled in the 141-pound weight class bracket, losing in the first round to Johnson and Wales wrestler Justin Colon by decision (7-5). In the consolation bracket, Matias defeated Norwich University wrestler Zach Morris by major decision (13-3). Matias then lost to WPI wrestler Peter Nash with a pin at 5:42.
In the 149-pound weight class, the Cards had Carter Armendarez ’18. He lost first round to Springfield wrestler Zach Joseph, who is ranked eighth nationally for his weight class. Armendarez won his first match in the consolation bracket, beating Coast Guard Academy wrestler Matthew Vieira with a major decision (11-2). Armendarez then lost to SUNY Cortland wrestler Austin Whitney with a pin at 2:54. Whitney placed fourth overall for the weight class.
Chris Siracusa ’16 left it all on the mats in the 157-lbs weight class. Siracusa won first round against Johnson and Wales wrestler Thomas Grippi by decision (6-3). In the quarterfinals, the second-ranked wrestler, Jorge Lopez from Williams, defeated Siracusa by a score of 8-5. Lopez continued onto the finals and placed second. In the consolation bracket, Siracusa beat Rhode Island College wrestler Chris Kelly by major decision (10-0). Battling onwards, Siracusa beat WPI wrestler Graysen Deluca by decision (6-2) and then lost by decision (5-4) to the third place wrestler Ty Herzog from Roger Williams. Siracusa continued his fight, earning himself the fifth overall spot in his weight class after his victory over Ithaca wrestler Eamonn Gaffney.
In the 165-lbs weight class, Roy Forys ’19 lost in the first round to SUNY Oneonta wrestler Evan Wallace. Wallace then lost in the next round to the bracket winner, Nick Valez from Ithaca. In the consolation bracket, Forys lost to Plymouth State wrestler Clay Callahan with a pin at 1:34.
Taran Carr ’16 in the 174-pound class had one heck of a start, beating Western New England University wrestler Patrick Canavan with a technical pin at 3:33. Carr then beat SUNY Oneonta wrestler Shaun Gillen by decision (7-2). The second-best wrestler nationally in the weight class brought down Carr in the semifinals with a win by decision (8-6). The second-ranked wrestler in the bracket, Lou Puca from SUNY Cortland placed second. In the consolation bracket, Carr beat Ithaca wrestler Jaison White by decision (4-2) to find himself in the running for a bid to Nationals. Carr faced the ninth-best wrestler in the country for his weight class, Dan Ressler from Roger Williams, and lost by decision (5-2). Carr fell just short of a spot at Nationals, but earned himself a prestigious and admirable fourth place finish for the tournament.
In the 184-pound class, Dominic Pirraglia ’18 faced Western New England wrestler Andrew Cole. Pirraglia lost by sudden victory (5-3). In the consolation bracket, Pirraglia was taken down by Norwich wrestler David Rogers in a sudden victory again (7-5). Both were close-call matches for Pirraglia.
Devon Carrillo ’18 made headway for the Cards in the 197-pound weight class bracket. Carrillo won in the first round against Trinity wrestler Mason Sangillo with a pin at 1:21. Carrillo continued on to beat the fourth-seeded Ithaca wrestler Jake Ashcraft by decision (9-2) to find himself in the semifinals against Roger Williams wrestler David Welch. The best wrestler for the weight class in the country, Welch beat Carrillo by decision (5-1) and then won the weight class. Carrillo, however, was not slowed, as he beat Williams wrestler Anthony Brooks with a quick pin at 38 seconds. Like Carr, Carrillo found himself practically tasting the bid to Nationals in his matchup against third-seeded Johnson and Wales wrestler Khamri Thomas. The lusted after pin seemed to be Carrillo’s weapon of choice for the tournament as he secured his bid to Nationals with a pin against Thomas at 2:38 and a third place finish overall.
In the heavyweight 285-pound division, Isaiah Bellamy ’18 battled for the Cardinals. Bellamy won in the first round against Coast Guard wrestler Cory Tomasetti with a pin at 3:47. Bellamy then fell to Norwich wrestler Frank Girolamo with a loss by decision (4-2). In the consolation bracket, Bellamy put up a fight against WPI wrestler Austin Shrewsbury withholding a pin for 4:56 but eventually falling.
It was a brutal two days of challenge after challenge for the Cards, but the fifth place finish by Siracusa, the fourth place finish by Carr, and the third place finish by Carrillo made it a memorable and celebratory finish to the season for the squad. However, it’s not over quite yet, with Carrillo bringing the Red and Black to Cedar Rapids, IA on Mar. 11-12 to compete in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Carrillo earned himself the Gorrarian Award after recording the most pins out of all the wrestlers in the entire two-day tournament at Springfield. Although there were some near misses with acquiring a bid to Nationals, the team will reflect with modesty and gratitude as it always has. Now, they will fire Carrillo up over break, as the rowdy two-sport athlete will come face to face with his national counterparts.