The Argus sat down with Carter Armendarez ’18 and Aaron Cranston ’20 this week to talk about the team’s five-match winning streak, Devon Carrillo ’18’s undefeated season so far, and the squad’s rising national ranking. They both laughed with beaming smiles, bragged about how untouchable Carrillo is, and how great the rest of the team has been looking. On Feb. 12, the men’s wrestling team hosted its Senior Sunday and walked into classes on the next day with a newfound confidence.
The team went 3-0, topping Worcester Polytechnic Institute (23-15), Norwich University (32-12), and No. 19 Centenary University (24-15). Against WPI, Carrillo (197), captain Isaiah Bellamy ’18 (285), Dylan Jones ’19 (133), James Matias ’19 (141), Roy Forys ’19 (165), and captain Dominic Pirraglia ’18 (174) all tallied up wins for Wes. In exhibition matches, Zack Murillo ’19, Tristan Stetson ’20, and Cranston all defeated their opponents to add emphasis to the Cardinal’s victory.
Against Norwich, Carrillo, Bellamy, Amir Daouk ’20, Matias, Armendarez, Forys, and Pirraglia picked up wins for a decisive shut out over the Cadets. The biggest win of the quad tournament came against nationally ranked (No. 19) Centenary, who had gone 11-2 for the season before meeting Wes. Carrillo, Bellamy, Daouk, Jones, Matias, Armendarez, Forys, Pirraglia, and Matt Winchester ’18 together tallied up the nine-point advantage against the Cyclones.
The following weekend Wes was back on the road traveling to Johnson and Wales University, or as Cranston says to call it “J-WU,” in Providence. JWU hosted the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) Futures Tournament, which is a time for up-and-coming first-years to battle it out against competition they will be facing for the next three years. Teams like Roger Williams (or “R-WU” as Cranston puts it) and JWU, who are nationally ranked No. 6 and No. 3, respectively, sent out wrestlers who show very little skill level difference to the varsity wrestlers that Wesleyan has been facing all season. Needless to say, NEWA’s are stacked with eager and talented underclassmen, and two of the Cardinals were named champions of their weight class brackets.
In the 125 lbs. weight class, Murillo topped Williams, WPI, JWU in the semis, and RWU in the finals with a 8-6 decision win to secure the championship. Stetson (133) pinned Trinity but fell to Castleton University. In the loser’s bracket, Stetson beat WPI and another Castleton wrestler for third place. Cranston (165) lost to Springfield College in the first round, then defeated WPI before falling to JWU. Zachary Turner ’20 topped Bridgewater State University, then Springfield in the semis, and Norwich in the finals to snag yet another championship victory for the Cards.
Cranston was incredibly pleased with his performance despite the 1-2 performance.
“It was the best I’ve wrestled all year,” he said.
In only his second semester here at Wes, and on track for an Economics major and potentially a double with Biology, Cranston has found a home with his wrestling teammates and Clark Hall mates. Off the mats and outside the classroom, Cranston is looking to start up a cookout business at both men’s and women’s sporting events. He hopes to amp up the attendance and spirit with anything from BBQ to classic hotdogs. A savvy businessman already, he’s ready to use Venmo to make it easier for students to grab a bite to eat during the lacrosse games.
After getting to know the first-year and his aspirations a bit, The Argus dug for some wrestling anecdotes. Cranston recalled a time where he had to cut 11 pounds in one day to make weight. He went to practice in the morning, had no water or any food, and then put on three layers of sweatpants before going to class. In class he began doing calisthenics to work up a sweat, telling the teacher he had to make weight for a match. He then proceeded to skip fourth period to go to a sauna to sweat off the rest of the water weight. Get this: he made weight. If the life of wrestlers doesn’t impress you just from that, who knows what will.
Cranston also mentioned Coach Drew Black’s elation when they beat Williams for the second time this season, as he literally jumped from his seat screaming the number two at the Williams coach.
We asked the Baltimore native what it was like to have such a powerhouse of a teammate like Carrillo.
“It’s definitely helpful to have him in the room,” Cranston said. “He teaches us so well.”
In addition to Carrillo, Cranston boasted about his captains and their presence on the mats. Bellamy’s return from injury definitely contributed to the team’s turnaround and 5-0 streak, though Cranston couldn’t seem to put a finger on exactly what sparked the success.
“It took a while to get into rhythm, but this is the part of the season you want to be best for anyways,” Cranston said.
This upcoming weekend are the Northeast Regional Championships at RWU. In each weight class, the top-six can place, but only the top-three wrestlers get a bid to Nationals in Wisconsin in March.
The Argus asked Cranston and Armendarez what the forecast looks like for the Cards come Saturday. Each team will be sending their top-ten wrestlers and both Cranston and Armendarez agree that a few Cardinals have a promising shot at a trip to the Midwest. Knocking on wood, both are pretty confident that No. 3 Carrillo will battle his way through the bracket to earn himself a spot for the second year in a row. Cranston also has high hopes for both captains and Armendarez. As a native Californian and a modest Government major who’s more of an Espwesso guy than a Pi guy, Armendarez laughed off The Argus’ confidence in his abilities to make Nationals. He knows he is the sixth seed going into this weekend, and he’ll be facing top wrestlers per usual. However, Armendarez’s modesty broke for a hot second as he smirked.
“I’m feeling good about it, though it’s a tough regional,” he said.
He assured The Argus that placing in the top-six would be amazing, but he’s not ready to settle for anything less than a spring break in the Badger State.
For lack of a better phrase, this is crunch time. The wrestlers are practicing harder than ever, throwing on the occasional and fashionable double sweatpants, and psyching each other up for one hell of a tournament on Saturday. Roll Cards!