Freshman Standouts Look to Lead Pride Wrestling to Success this Year

wrestling

Jack Margaros
@JackMargaros

The Springfield College wrestling team had an average season last year. The program came in the top five in each invitational tournament they participated in and even won the Doug Parker Invitational. However, where they struggled was matches against ranked opponents. They played the likes of Johnson and Wales, Coast Guard, York College, and were unable to defeat any of them. They ended up placing sixth in the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships and 47th out of 68 teams in the NCAA Division III Championships. There were several standouts, particularly the senior duo of Geovanni Medina and Zach Joseph. These two accounted for 53 wins, 13 pins, nine technical falls, and were a huge part of Springfield’s point production. The team took a sizable blow losing these two seniors, and will have to rely on other players to step up.

This year, the Pride will face a similar schedule to last years. So far, the program has participated in the Ithaca Invitational, where the program took sixth place overall this past Saturday. The tournament featured a couple of ranked opponents, based off of NCAA rankings from last season. It was a good tournament to start the season with, as the Pride will be facing ranked opponents later in the year. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to the loss of Medina and Joseph moving forward.

Players to Watch

There are several players who are looking to make some noise this year after solid performances last season. Senior Hunter Ayen had an impressive season last year, posting a 17-5 record with eight pins and two technical falls. Sophomore Joseph Fusco will look to continue his dominance from freshman year, where he had a 34-9 record with a team leading 14 pins. Without Joseph on the team, Fusco looks poised to take over a leadership role. He has already had a great start to the year, as he took second place in the 285 pound weight class at the Ithaca Invitational this past Saturday. Another standout freshman last season was Ian Tolotti. He had a 27-12 record with seven pins and two technical falls. He and Fresco will look to make up for what the team lost with Joseph and Medina graduating. A sleeper to look out for is senior Kearney Gutierrez. He had an average season last year, posting an 18-17 record with three pins and four technical falls. Now that senior year is here, Gutierrez will look to end his career at Springfield on a high note. He has already started this by placing second in the 157 pound weight class at the Ithaca Invitational. These players will carry most of the load for Springfield this year.

Outlook

For the Pride to be successful this year, they need more than three or four players to contribute at a high level. The team recruited 18 freshman, so hopefully a couple of them will be able to have breakout years like Fusco and Tolotti. Also, Ayen and his four senior teammates need to have solid seasons. Gutierrez needs to continue his hot start and have it translate to the rest of the seniors. If underclassmen see that the seniors are doing well, motivation will spread throughout the team. The seniors can make their underclassmen teammates better wrestlers with their performances. The real tests of this team will obviously be against ranked opponents. If they can win a couple of matches against those teams, they will have much more momentum heading into regionals and the national tournament. Fusco and Tolotti need to continue their dominance. A collective effort from the team will definitely make up for what they lost last year and lead them to a deep tournament run at an NCAA championship this year.

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