The men’s wrestling team closed out the semester with two intensely competitive tournaments, coming in fifth at the Doug Parker Invitational on Nov. 19 at Springfield College and eighth at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Invitational this past weekend.

The Doug Parker Invitational included 16 teams: Wesleyan, Williams, Rhode Island College, Springfield College, Coast Guard Academy, Bridgewater State University, Southern Maine University, Springfield Technical Community College, Trinity, New England College, Centenary University, Plymouth State University, Western New England University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, East Stroudsburg University, and American International College. Coming in fifth, Wesleyan tallied a total of 94 points.

In the 125 weight class, two of the Cardinal freshmen battled through the bracket. Tristan Stetson ’20 received a bye first round and matched up against Matt Morris of Williams, losing by major decision (2-11). Morris continued on to the finals losing to Southern Maine’s Peter Del Gallo. Stetson fed into the back draw, defeating fellow teammate Zach Murillo ’19 by decision (4-3). Stetson then beat Daniel Murray of Rhode Island College by decision (6-3) and continued his streak with a win over STCC’s Christian Antoine by decision (7-0). Stetson, on fire, soared past Casey Abshire of Southern Maine with an 8-3 decision and a chance to compete for third place overall in the 125 bracket. In a close matchup with Plymouth State’s Joey Aumann, the Cardinal freshman lost by decision (2-6) but finished an impressive fourth overall.

Joining Stetson in the 125 weight class was Amir Daouk ’20 and Murillo. Daouk won by major decision (16-6) first round against Antoine from STCC. Daouk then lost by decision (4-6) to Abshire. In the backdraw, Daouk defeated Franky Roman of Rhode Island College with a fall at 1:09. Daouk then lost to Aumann by decision (1-7). Murillo lost first round to Ryan Pro of New England College by a close decision (7-8). In the back draw, Murillo topped Brian Harvey of Springfield with an 11-4 decision before losing to his teammate Stetson.

Dylan Jones ’19 represented Wes in the 133 bracket, getting a bye first round and cruising past Ian Tolotti of Springfield with a 5-3 decision. Third round Jones faced Centenary’s Joey Zargo and defeated him with a 10-5 decision. In the semis, Jones matched up against Tim McLinden of Western New England and lost by a close decision (3-4). In the back draw, Jones faced his earlier opponents, this time falling to Tolotti but pinning Zargo at 1:55 to secure fifth place overall.

James Matias ’19 had quite the winning record in the 141 bracket. First round, Matias beat Zachary Lepre of Rhode Island College with a technical fall (17-1) and then pinned Nathaniel Grimard of Southern Maine at 3:22 in the second round. Matias then faced Austin Roche of Western New England and won by decision (8-2). In the semis, Matias pinned Patrick Ferzoco of Springfield at 2:58 to advance to the finals. Matias matched up against the No. 1 seed Dylan Nace of East Strousburg, a Division II team, and lost in a nail-biter of a match that went to double overtime (2-3).  Shane Ross ’19 also competed in the 141 bracket and received a bye first round before pinning Christian Echevarria of American International. In the third round, Ross met Maxwell Nauta of Centenary, losing by major decision (0-10). In the back draw, Ross defeated Derek Bohle of Springfield by decision (11-5) and Michael Scaravilli of Rhode Island College by major decision (11-2). Ross then was pinned at 0:30 by Springfield’s Ferzoco. Feeding into a matchup for fifth place, Ross faced Matthew McAllister from the Coast Guard but lost by decision (1-6) to place sixth overall.

In the 157 class, Robert Rosenberg ’17 received a bye before he met Nick Anselmi of Williams, winning with a 5-3 decision. Rosenberg was then pinned by Alec Donovan of Centenary at 3:44 in the next round. In the back draw, Rosenberg lost by decision to Christian Gosch of the Coast Guard (2-3).

In the 165 weight class, Roy Forys ’19 received a bye and then faced Andrew Szilagyi, winning by decision (5-2). Forys then lost to Arther Aeberli of the Coast Guard by decision (3-7) and lost to Zac Thompson of Southern Maine in the backdraw.

Captain Dominic Pirraglia ’18 represented Wes in the 174 class and soared through the bracket to the third round. Pirraglia defeated Justin Montgomery of Plymouth State (Dec 5-2), Joe Welk of East Strousburg (fall 6:15) and was then pinned by Dan Fiorvantie of the Coast Guard (fall 2:06). Pirraglia then fed into the back draw, defeated Elias Kokalis of Springfield and lost to sixth-place Matt Froio of Plymouth.

In the 184 class, Matt Winchester ’18 lost a tough first round to Kolby Smith of Southern Maine (SV-1, 11-9). Winchester then defeated Sean Baker of STCC (fall 1:28) and Pat Canavan of Western New England (Dec 9-2) in the back draw before being pinned by Michael Gallagher of Rhode Island College.

Zachary Turner ’20, another newcomer to the team, competed for Wes in the 197 bracket. Turner pinned his first opponent from Trinity at 3:46 but then was pinned at 0:37 by Williams’ Martin Strenk. In the back draw, Turner was pinned by Brandon Williams of Springfield at 2:48.

The team’s other captain Isaiah Bellamy ’18 went to work in the 285 class, practically walking his way to the semis. Bellamy topped Brennan Sankey of Western New England (dec 4-1), Anthony Colabella of Centenary (maj 14-4), John Georges of Rhode Island College (fall 6:13), before losing a neck-to-neck matchup in double overtime with No. 2 seed Donovan Lozada of STCC (SV-2, 2-4). Bellamy then pushed through the back draw to secure third place overall, defeating No. 1 seed Jenard Rosemond of American International (another Division II team) in the process.

After an exhausting tournament, the Cards only had a couple of days to regroup before hitting the mats again this past weekend at the RIT Invitational. Wes finished eighth out of 12 teams with 61.5 points overall. The tournament offered memorable highlights for some of the Cards, but the team came head-to-head with some serious obstacles.

Murillo placed third overall in the 125 weight class and rocked a 5-1 winning record. Stetson placed sixth and sported a 3-3 overall record. Jones placed sixth in the 133 weight class, finishing the tournament with a 4-2 record. Matias went 5-2 overall and Ross went 2-0 in the championship bracket for the 141 weight class. Forys competed in the 165 weight class and went 2-2. The Cards put on an impressive performance overall, but hit some turbulence during Bellamy’s matches. In the 285 weight class, Bellamy came in sixth place overall, going 3-1 in the championship bracket but losing two crucial matches in the back draw. The drama didn’t stay on the mat for the Cards, as Bellamy suffered a severe leg injury that sent the team to the emergency room.

Carter Armendarez ’18 didn’t wrestle at RIT, but was by his teammates’ sides the whole weekend through the competition and the hospital stay.

“Isaiah hurt his leg,” Armendarez said. “We went to the emergency room and had to stay there for a while. I ate pizza and drank coffee in the coach’s room all day. And I coached some people to victory. We watched the ending of ‘The Office’ in the bus. Very bittersweet.”

All-star Matias had many mixed emotions following his own athletic performance and his captain’s injury.

“RIT went well for the most part,” Matias said. “I feel like everyone wrestled well but we are obviously never satisfied. Coach keeps stressing that although performance now is important, what we are training for has yet to come. We suffered a bit of a loss with Isaiah getting hurt in his last match, in which he was wrestling a kid who took fourth in the nation two years ago. Isaiah was in the match the whole time and only lost 4-3 but suffered a bad leg injury at the end. We were all in Rochester until about 12:30 a.m., waiting for him at the hospital, anxious to hear about his condition. He ended up having to get surgery to fix the problem and although he might not be back on the mat for a bit, we are all just really happy he’s gonna be okay. In addition, expect a new and improved team for the new year with the addition of Devon Carrillo [’17] and Carter Armanderez, hopefully Isaiah as well. We will all be working hard together over winter break to get to Wisconsin this March.”

It’s been a strenuous start to the season already for the Wesleyan wrestlers, but as Matias stressed, the team is just beginning. With road bumps like their captain’s injury, it is an uphill grind from here for the Cards, but the Wesleyan wrestling mentality has always been perseverance, and the men have their eyes on NCAA Division III Championships in March. In the meantime, the wrestlers will be hitting the mats all winter break before returning to competition on Jan. 7 for the Scott Viera Invite at Roger Williams University.

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