What does a perfect weekend look like? Look no further than last week: it’s only the second week of school and you get a wrestling dual on Saturday and a Super Bowl on Sunday. The hype was building all week long for Saturday’s tilt between the Little Three rivals, and Wesleyan and Williams live up to the hype. For those looking for an Eagles vs. Patriots story, please turn to Andrew [Martin ’21]’s or Andrew [Fleming ’20]’s article if you haven’t done so already because it is all about the Cardinals on the mat here.
In the quiet of the afternoon, Devon Carrillo GLSP recorded three impressive pins in a row to lead the Cardinals to go 2-1 in a quad-match facing Williams, Ithaca College, and SUNY Oneonta at Silloway Gymnasium. It is also worth noting that the pins not only helped Carrillo tie Isaiah Bellamy ’17 with 17 on the season, but also means that he is now the man with most pins in the country, all divisions included.
Perhaps it was caused by a lack of spectators, but the Cardinals initially found it hard to shake off the rustiness of winter break as they trailed Williams 7-14 after the first six bouts. Unsurprisingly, though, the never-flighty Red Birds quickly adjusted themselves and evened the score. Senior captain Dominic Pirraglia won by a 14-2 major decision at 174, and Simon Chee ’21 picked up a hard-fought 7-3 decision at 184. While the Ephs were still feeling unlucky for losing their advantage, Carrillo responded in the next match by pinning Chris Washington in 3:29, sealing a well-deserved victory for the team. In the end, Wesleyan defeated Williams 26-14, with the forfeit adding on to the difference in the final outcome.
Entering the second match, however, Wesleyan suffered a hard blow in the early stages. Featuring a group of on-form wrestlers, No. 3 Ithaca soon secured an advantage of 15-0 in only three bouts. Carter Armendarez ’18 closed that gap by picking up his first victory at 149, but only to find it useless to the team as Ithaca came back with fiercer attacks at other weight classes. Although Carrillo picked up more points for the team at 195 by winning by fall for the second time, the Cardinals still found themselves powerless and watched the victory fall into the strong hands of the Bombers, who had already totaled 22 team points in the previous four bouts. The final tally was 36-9, but don’t get it twisted: the score does not reflect the competitiveness and intensity of the match.
Without having much time to rest, the Dirty Birds prepared themselves for the last opponent of the day, the Red Dragons of Oneonta. In his first appearance of the day, Zack Murillo ’19 helped Wesleyan take an early 4-0 lead with a 16-5 major decision at 125. In the next five bouts, both teams applied their strategies to play carefully and the scores ran neck and neck till 13-8. The turning point of the game came when Aaron Cranston ’20 fell to Ryan Marszal at 165, allowing Oneonta to lead by one point and maintain it until there were only two bouts left to play. At this very moment, it was Carrillo who once again stood up under pressure, controlled his bout, and picked up a huge win with a pin to save the day. As the mutuals enjoyed the pleasure of watching this thrilling encounter, the Cardinals finally bounced back by edging the Red Dragons by a margin of 22-20.
After three tough battles, Wesleyan is now 9-7 overall in dual matches this season. As per usual, the team now has a week-long break from competition, for not only some physical rest but also mental recuperation. They will return to the mat on the following weekend to host another quad-match in Silloway Gymnasium, taking up challenges from Norwich University, American International College, and The College at Brockport. Just a friendly reminder: Feb. 11 will be the last time for the wrestlers to play at home, so make sure you’re there. The team, especially the seniors at their last home meet, deserve your support.
Henry Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.