After senior Hunter Ayen secured an 8-3 win in the second to last bout of the match, he cut the Hawks lead to 17-15, setting up a winner-take-all bout for nationally ranked sophomore Joe Fusco at 285. Fusco and freshman Adam Patsun went back and forth for the first period. Fusco held a lead late into the second period, but was unfortunately turned over and pinned by Patsun to seal the victory for Roger Williams.
“I would want someone like Joe Fusco in that situation because he cares a lot,” said head coach Jason Holder. “It didn’t go his way, but that is okay. If we wrestled tomorrow, I would still want Joe in that situation. I don’t feel he cost us the match.”
Other than that, Holder saw some things that he liked from his wrestlers.
“There were certainly some takeaways from our performance at the end of the night. We saw some guys really impress, and other situations where guys underperformed. It was a nice preparation for the postseason. There are a lot of things we can do better,” said Holder.
Holder believes this match will only help the team as they continually prepare for the NCAA Regional and National championships at the end of the season.
“The more high pressure situations, like a dual meet against Roger Williams, the better [the players] are going to perform when it counts. That spot that we put Joe in is great because it is preparing him for the rest of the season.”
The upperclassmen did a great job of keeping the Pride in the match, as several of them came in clutch to keep it close. After the Hawks jumped out to a 7-0 lead by winning the first two bouts, junior Derek Bohle delivered a pin in the first period to cut the Hawk lead to 7-6.
“That’s huge. Bohle went out there and wrestled really well. It is tough for his opponents to handle him. His style is unorthodox,” said Holder.
After senior Kearney Gutierrez delivered an 8-2 win, the Hawks took the next two bouts to regain the lead 14-9. Junior Ryan Harty followed that decision with a 4-3 win to give Springfield a 14-12 lead. After the Hawks regained the lead by going up 17-12, Ayen came through with his 8-3 victory.
“We have Hunter [Ayen]; very, very consistent performer. He doesn’t get juiced up for big time competition, he just goes out there and gets after it and performs. Ryan Harty has impressed me,” said Holder.
There were also other wrestlers who lost, but had solid performances. It just did not show on paper.
“George [Tarwo] attacked most of the time the other night. Aarin Feliz lost his match but he ended the match on top. He took his opponent down to save that major decision,” said Holder.
Freshman George Tarwo was on the losing end of a very tight and heated bout, although he had control for most of the match.
The Pride will now enjoy a couple of weeks off and not have to compete again until January 12th, where they travel to Williamsport, PA to compete in the Bud Whitehill Duals. Holder is excited about the team’s extended period of rest.
“We get to have five solid practices [this week]. [The players] can focus on getting better at wrestling, so this is a critical week for us. They have a little mental break and then we can get back after it.”