The men’s wrestling team spent the majority of January touring New England, matching up against some of the best teams in the country at annual tournaments. Their first tournament, the Scott Viera Invitational, was held at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I.
No. 7 Roger Williams Gold team tallied first with 177.5 points. Worcester Polytechnic Institute followed in second with 140.5 and Wesleyan won third place with 92 points. RWU’s Blue team came in fourth followed by University of Southern Maine, Plymouth State University, No. 3 Johnson and Wales University, Trinity, Bridgewater State University, and American International College respectively.
The team was carried by Devon Carrillo ’18, who came in first for the entire 197 pound weight class bracket after taking down his little brother, Cody Carrillo of Plymouth State, in the finals. Also adding to the third place finish were Amir Daouk ’20, who placed second in the 125 pound weight class, and Shane Ross ’19, who also placed second in the 141 pound bracket. Powerhouse captain Dominic Pirraglia ’18 came in third in the 174 pound weight class and Dylan Jones ’19 snagged fourth place in the 133 pound weight class.
Juniors Carter Armendarez and Matt Winchester had impressive 3-2 and 2-2 records, with Armendarez competing at 149 pounds and Winchester at 184 pounds. Zach Murillo ’19 also finished with a 2-2 record in the 125 pound weight class. In the 157 pound bracket, Robert Rosenberg ’17 went 0-2 in a difficult first round match up against Johnson and Wales. Aaron Cranston ’20 wrestled in the 165 pound bracket, matching up against No. 9 Alec Golner of RWU in the first round. Cranston went 1-2 for the tournament. Grant Hill ’20 joined Cranston in the 165 pound bracket and went 0-2.
The following weekend, the team traveled to Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA. for the Budd Whitehill Duals. On the first day, Wesleyan participated in three rounds and finished fourth among Lycoming, Millikin University, and Waynesburg University.
Against Lycoming in the first round, Daouk won with a technical fall (16-1), Jones defeated his opponent by major decision (13-3), and Carrillo came out on top with a technical fall (16-1). Armendarez went up against the No. 2 wrestler in the nation for the 149 pound weight class, and lost by major decision (2-10). Cranston also went up against a top 10 wrestler, losing by a fall at 1:41. Overall, Wesleyan lost 14-32. In the second round Wesleyan faced Waynesburg with wins from Jones, James Matias ’19, Armendarez, Pirraglia, and Carrillo. In the end, Wesleyan lost a heartbreaker by one point (22-23). Wesleyan fell again in the third round against Millikin. Wes had wins from Matias, Armendarez, Pirraglia, and Carrillo to tally up 18 points against Millikin’s 31.
On the second day of the tournament, Wesleyan placed second amongst Springfield College, Thiel College, and Trine University. Against Trine, Wes had wins from Murillo, Jones, Matias, Armendarez, Pirraglia, and Carrillo to win 33-17 in the first round. Wesleyan then faced Springfield for the championships, losing 9-30. Matias, Armendarez, and Carrillo pocketed the wins for Wes to finish out the tournament. Carrillo went 5-0 for the weekend and was named an All-Tournament Team selection at 197 pounds.
Back on the road the next weekend, Wes hopped over to Providence, R.I. for the NEWA Dual Championship Tournament at Johnson and Wales University. Wesleyan placed sixth overall out of sixteen teams behind No. 3 Johnson and Wales, No. 7 Roger Williams, No. 16 US Coast Guard Academy, and WPI. In the first round, Wesleyan topped Norwich University in a close match (23-21). Daouk, Matias, Armendarez, Rosenberg, and Carrillo collectively closed out the win for their team. Wesleyan then faced Johnson and Wales, the first seed in the tournament. With a single win from Armendarez, the team fell 4-47 over the nationally dominant home team.
In the race for fifth place, Wes had another close match against Williams and eventually topped their fellow NESCAC rival in a trilling 23-21 finish. Wes had victories from Armendarez, Rosenberg, Pirraglia, Carrillo, and previously injured captain Isaiah Bellamy ’18. Both captains Pirraglia and Bellamy recorded impressive pins and veteran Carrillo continued his winning streak to lead their team in the upset against the Ephs. Armendarez and the rest of the team felt the high of their victory over Williams.
“We haven’t beaten them in like five years,” Armendarez said. “Dom, Isaiah, and Devon got big bonus points to barely pull out the duel.”
Next round, Southern Maine out-scored Wes 31-13 for the fifth place title. Tristan Stetson ’20, Matias, and Carrillo together tallied up the 13 points for Wes with their wins. The loss was easily overshadowed by the Williams upset and further remedied when Carrillo was named to the NEWA All-Tournament Team for his incredible performance and three decisive wins during the tournament.
“Our team greatly improved over the break because we spent so much time together training and outside of practice,” said Pirraglia. “We had a few injuries early on but we are just about back at full strength to put a hurtin’ on opponents at the end of the season. The biggest highlight this break was beating Williams at the NEWA duals 23-22. It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten them and that win was a complete team effort. Our coach was so thrilled that he even took us to Chipotle after the tournament, as long as we promised to make weight the week after. We are a stronger, better, and more mature team now as we go into the end of the season, and we all have big goals set for ourselves. Our next focus is the regional tournament at Roger Williams University on Feb. 25-26.”
With a couple wrestlers on a personal roll now, the team heads to Springfield this Saturday for a dual-match.