Walking into the Physical Education complex located on Springfield College, one will find a large wood-paneled wall that at first comes across as mistakenly misplaced. However, one will come to find that resting on those walls are stained glass portraits of notable Springfield alumni, such as James Naismith, Alonzo Amos Stagg, William G. Morgan and others.
Symmetrically splitting the columns of portraits, are two heavy maroon colored doors that open into a room that not many students and faculty have the privilege to walk into. From the outside you’ll typically hear the base of the music bumping a steady beat. If you peek through the windows on the door you’ll see 34 varsity athletes running countless circles in the room lined with maroon colored pads that stretch from ceiling to floor.
And some days, you’ll see them play handball.
“We’ll pick teams and captains and keep score,” said senior Kearney Gutierrez.
“I [play] because it’s fun, but it’s a warm up,” he laughed. “Way better than running circles.”
Gutierrez is a member of the Springfield College Wrestling Team. Weighing in at 157, he was honored the Maroon Club Athlete of the Week, after a dominating start to his final campaign for the Pride at the Ithaca Invitational, Nov. 3-4, hosted in Providence, R.I.
“It was nice to see the freshman come out and perform at their first college tournament,” he said. “I didn’t really practice throughout the entire preseason because I had clinical’s so I hadn’t really practiced before that.”
The Athletic Training major from Freeport, NY., spent the beginning days of his senior year assisting the head Athletic Trainer for the men’s soccer team, who concluded their season 15-1-3.
Gutierrez says that throughout the season he learned the culture the men’s soccer team’s culture. He complimented them on their mentality of ‘go-go-go’, and the way they attacked their opponents. He said they tire their opposition out and then have them right where they want them. That mindset transitioned right into Gutierrez’s own season.
“My mentality going into the season is to just be conditioned well and go through that entire period without stopping,” he said.
He did just that.
Two weekends ago, the Pride traveled to Providence, R.I.. In their brief stay, the team picked up a second place finish, on Friday, out of 16, and a sixth place finish, on Saturday, out of 16.
Gutierrez himself registered consecutive major decisions on Friday and finished runner-up t the 157 pound weight class.
On Saturday, the senior barreled past Mitchell Cook of Johnson & Wales University in a 5-3 quarterfinal decision. He then punched a spot into the final round after powering past Oswego’s Joey Bush, 5-2.
In the final round Gutierrez would eventually fall to Stevens’ Tech’s own Zach Wilhelm in a 12-2 major decision.
After his impressive start, it’s safe to say that Gutierrez is getting used to Maroon and White.
Just last year, in his junior season, Gutierrez made his debut as a varsity athlete at Springfield College. Before finding Springfield, he attended Alfred University, in Alfred NY., where he played varsity football, sporting Purple and Gold.
“I transferred from Alfred University and it just didn’t work [here] with football,” he said.“I didn’t make the preseason list.”
Gutierrez ended up taking his sophomore year off from sports entirely and eventually someone convinced him to walk onto the wrestling team.
In high school Gutierrez was a three sport athlete at Freeport High School, competing in football, wrestling and lacrosse.
“I didn’t perform well in high school. I was so average,” Gutierrez said of his wrestling career. “I went to counties every year and I could never place.”
In the fall of 2016, Gutierrez went out for the wrestling team and eventually make it. He finished the season with an 18-17 record and a 9-11 record in duals. That spring he tried out for Spring ball with the football team, and despite performing well, he said wrestling was the fit for him.
“[Wrestling] plays into the school aspect of it,” he said. “Let’s say you have a deadline thats due in class, it just goes hand-in-hand with wrestling.”
Because of the competitive nature of wrestling and the accountability each athlete faces with making weight week by week, he said it’s given him the keys in life that will lead him to one day be very successful.
“It kinda stuck,” Gutierrez said of his decision to wrestle at Springfield.
This weekend Springfield College will host the Doug Parker Invitational. It is regarded as one of the most storied and prestigious wrestling tournaments in the Northeast. Now in its 27th season, the Doug Parker Invitational features 18 teams from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, creating an opportunity for Gutierrez to continue to shine as Maroon Club Athlete. As a wrestler, Gutierrez come a long way since Freeport.
“I heard about Maroon Club Athlete last semester and I thought ‘wow I’d love to be that,’” he admits. “I’m glad I got to that point.”