This past weekend the Springfield College wrestling team traveled to New York for the two-day Ithaca Invitational. Out of the 11 teams competing, the Pride placed fourth with 137.5. Some standout performances included individual titles from Dylan Foley, Zach Joseph and Hunter Ayen.
Foley is one of the team’s senior captains. At 165 lbs., his achievements can be reflected in the title of the nation’s top-ranked wrestler in his weight class. Foley exhibited determination throughout the entire meet, and with that, his expertise were rewarded.
During his opening match, Foley dominated over Stevens’s wrestler, Connor Bass, with a 4-0 win. Following the unanswered victory, Foley picked up an injury default win against Ithaca’s Adam Dejesus, and then captured the championship match, 4-2, against Nick Velez, another Ithacan.
“Being the No. 1 ranked wrestler for my weight class, first of all, is an honor. However, it definitely comes with a target on my back. I have embraced that better this season than I did towards the end of my junior season,” Foley explained.
“Through the help of coaches, teammates and team consultants, I have been able to block out outside noises and influences. I push myself and am pushed by teammates daily to live up to that ranking. But at the end of the day when I shake hands and step on the line to start a match, I am thinking about wrestling, executing moves and winning, and nothing else. Not school, not friends and certainly not someone else’s ranking opinions.”
Those on the outside of the wrestling world often do not understand the complexities and commitments involved. The responsibilities of these student-athletes differ from that of a student-athlete belonging to another sports team. Weight fluctuation is expected in order to qualify for their designated weight class. As little as one pound over could disqualify a wrestler from competing in a meet.
“I take this sport very seriously. Much more so than many understand. I train specifically for wrestling year-round, most often multiple times a day. In season, I monitor what I eat through a meticulous diet plan that I have worked to develop over the years. I barely go out on weekends at all,” Foley said.
“The best way to explain my thought process in all of this is that I want to leave Springfield College and the sport of wrestling this year with absolutely no regrets. I want to do every little thing the right way, down to weight management, extra workouts, rest times, watching tape and much more. I don’t want to ever look back and have ‘what ifs.’ Therefore, I happily and willingly sacrifice many things that other people would consider me insane for doing.”
Following closely in Foley’s footsteps, sophomore Zach Joseph erupted with success after picking up a total of five wins and capturing the title at 149. His victories included a win by injury default, a 4-3 win over Ithaca’s Eamonn Gaffney, and a 10-8 championship bout against Ithaca’s Daniel Peck.
Joseph’s performance this past weekend reaped national recognition where he was chosen as the New England Wrestling Association Wrestler of the Week. He was one of three Springfield College wrestlers to win their weight class.
Sophomore Hunter Ayen proved, along with Joseph, that the underclassmen can certainly hang with the more experienced seniors.
Ayen, at 197 lbs., had quite the season opener, ultimately claiming the individual title in his weight class. Following two wins on Friday, he recorded a 16-0 tech fall over Jacob Bell of Norwich University, a 6-5 decision against Ithaca’s Gregory Duvall, and an injury default victory over another Ithacan, Matthew Booth.
Senior captain, Eric Hamrick exemplified complete devotion throughout the match. Unfortunately, Hamrick walked away with an ankle injury but was still able to finish fourth at 165 after posting a sudden-victory over Bass.
“I was not very happy with my performance this past weekend. I feel that I should have placed higher and got more team points. I lost two close matches that I still think I should have won,” explained Hamrick. “I plan on getting better in all aspects of wrestling and significantly building up my cardio.”
The Springfield College wrestling team is devoted to their sport, their coaches and each other. Success is certainly in store for this team. The Pride will return to the mats to host the Doug Parker Invitational on Saturday, Nov. 22.