Swimming and Diving
Swimming and Diving is plunging into the 2017-18 season with high hopes. It’s for a good reason: Although they finished seventh (women’s) and ninth place (men’s) in the ’CAC last year, individual members were extremely successful across the board. The women’s team claimed 10 varsity records, 10 NCAA B standards, and 10 top-eight finishes at the NESCAC Championship. Current sophomore Caroline Murphy became the team’s first-ever NESCAC champion with her victory in the 50-yard backstroke. With only one senior gone, the returning members range from NESCAC qualifiers to varsity record-holders.
Despite the men’s one-spot drop in the NESCAC to ninth place last season, team accomplishments included seven new varsity records, one NCAA B standard, and six top-eight finishes at the NESCAC Championship. Senior Ali Pourmaleki was one of those top eight, finishing second in the 200-yard butterfly and getting selected for the NESCAC All-Conference team.
Head Coach Peter Solomon looks forward to a season led by the class of 2018.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s team,” Solomon said. “We have a very special group of seniors who have played a major role in improving the team culture as well as the program’s recent climb in the NESCAC rankings. If I’ve learned anything in my 23 years as a head coach, it is that the best years are the ones when senior leadership is in place. Everything seems to fall into place when you have a dedicated and enthusiastic group of seniors like we have in the class of 2018.”
Women’s basketball is planning to rebound after a less than satisfying record last year, when they went 7-15 in the season and missed both the NESCAC tournament and NCAA DIII Championships. Stand-out players looking to command the team include Olivia Gorman ’19, who led the team in points-per-game (PPG) with 11.0, and Tara Berger ’19, who followed with 10.2 PPG and additionally won a gold medal for Team USA at the 20th Maccabiah Games this last summer.
Men’s basketball had a relatively successful season last year, going 19-7 before losing in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament to Trinity, 49-51. Luckily, the team was able to capture an at-large bid to enter the NCAA DIII Championship but ultimately fell 89-83 to Union College. The Cards lost two valuable seniors, Harry Rafferty and Joseph Kuo, who were first and third in PPG for the team, respectively with 13.0 and 11.8. Even so, the team should be more than capable to repeat and improve on their performances from last year.
“I think we have a great group of guys coming back with a lot of experience and three really good freshmen with us,” said Kevin O’Brien ’19. “With the group of guys we have, if we take the season one game at a time and trust the process and [do] what we do, then we have a shot to improve and make it really far.”
The wrestling team saw an exceptional effort last season from dual-athlete Devon Carrillo ’17. Before entering the postseason, Carrillo topped the team with a 22-1 record, before then traveling to the NCAA Championships where he lost in the quarterfinals. Although he didn’t make it all the way, the Middletown native’s fighting spirit was certainly admirable. He was named Connecticut’s Male Athlete of the Year for his success both on the field in football and on the mat; this as the first time the honor had gone to a Wesleyan athlete.
Although Carrillo graduated last spring, the team’s winning record from last season looks to continue this winter. Carter Armendarez ’18 returns after following a similar path to Carillo: qualifying for the NCAA Championships and losing in the quarterfinals. Former co-captains and seniors Isaiah Bellamy and Dominic Pirraglia are also set to succeed. Bellamy earned the fourth seed at 15-5 for the Northeast Regional Championships, while Pirraglia was sixth seed at 19-13. Winning records continued for the younger half of the team with phenomenal performances from sophomores Dylan Jones, James Matias, and Roy Forys. With experienced and accomplished members on the roster, perhaps the team will see more Carrillo-level success.
Men’s ice hockey made strides across the ice last season, finishing with a 13-9-4 record overall and a 7-7-4 record in-conference. In the NESCAC Championships, after winning a quarterfinal matchup over Colby, the team fell to Hamilton in the semifinals by a close 5-4 margin, and were ultimately ranked seventh in the NESCAC; however, the team won eleven more games than the 2015-16 season.
Progress is set to continue this winter as many key players return to the rink. Seniors Cam McCusker and Dylan Holze, both top five scorers last season, join sophomore Walker Harris on offense. As a freshman, Harris won the NESCAC Rookie of the Year Award, an honor that a Wesleyan team member hadn’t claimed since 2006. Defensively, senior captain Theo Tydingco and Chad Malinowski ’19 are expected to lead the charge, the latter making second-team All-NESCAC last winter. The duo was part of a formidable defensive core last year, taking first in the NESCAC for most penalty kills and stopping over 90% of power plays.
Although content with last season’s progress, head coach Chris Potter looks forward to the team’s burgeoning development.
“We had a lot of players improve their games from the year before and I am looking forward to seeing their continued growth,” Potter said. “One of the areas we will be looking to improve on is the ability to win both games on the weekend, especially at home. One of our team goals every season is to finish in the top four, and you need to have sweep weekends to have a chance at that goal.”
The women’s team struggled last season in the NESCAC, finishing in the penultimate place in the league after a tough loss in the quarterfinals to Middlebury. Ending the season with a 7-12-5 overall record and 4-9-3 in the NESCAC, the team showed great improvement from the 2015-16 season, with three more conference wins and nearly twice the number of overall wins. And though the overall record doesn’t show it, the team fought hard in many of those battles, going into overtime six times over the course of the season.
Unfortunately, the Cards had to say goodbye to seven seniors last year; however, the team’s eight current sophomores now have another year of experience on their backs. Among them are goalies Allegra Grant ’20 and Sam Smith ’20, who totaled over 750 saves in their first season. Grant’s 572 saves ranked her ninth in the NESCAC and fifth overall for saves percentage.
On offense, field hockey star Cici Frattasio ’18 moves to the ice for her last winter season. As a junior, Frattasio led the team with 14 points, split evenly between goals and assists. While many of the team’s top scorers have graduated, many sophomores and juniors who claimed points last year look to move up the team’s ranks this winter.
After losing five seniors, the men’s squash team will have its work cut out to repeat its victory at the Conroy Cup, the D division of the College Squash Association’s national championship. Overcoming the likes of New York University, Bowdoin, and finally Hobart College, the Cards had the help of, in particular, Zach Roach ’17, who was named Harrow Sports College Squash Player of the 2017 Men’s National Team Championship. But Roach is no more, and so the 2017-2018 season will look to emphasize rebuilding.
“I’m looking forward to coaching a truly committed group of squash players to improve and represent Wesleyan,” said Coach Shona Kerr.
“This year is a working year,” said Johnny Hayes ’20. “Obviously we strive to do bigger and better things each season, but we are hoping to use this year to hit our stride.”
The women’s side of the court is looking to up its game after winning the consolation finals of the Walker Cup, the C division of the national championship. The team was led by Laila Samy ’18, who was the NESCAC Player of the Year and who won the consolation bracket of the Individual Ramsay Cup last season.
“As a team, we finished 21 in the country last year, and we are working hard this year to beat some of the teams that finished above us such as Tufts and Amherst and hopefully win our division for the team championships,” Samy said. “My personal goal is to win the individual national championship, I have been working very hard since September, it is my last season here at Wesleyan and I want to make the most of it and most importantly enjoy it.”
Cormac Chester can be reached at email@example.com, and Zoë Kaplan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.