Individual accomplishments in sports are always recognized and honored. Last weekend marked the beginning of the Springfield College 2018-2019 wrestling season. The Pride took on the Ithaca Invitational in New York where junior Joe Fusco won out his weight class and won an individual title.
“It felt really good to win the Ithaca tournament, I took 2nd last year, and 5th as a freshman for my first tournament ever,” Fusco said. “It kind of felt like that’s where I broke out as a freshman, so it felt good to come back and win it as a champion.”
Fusco triumphed over Travis Manick from RIC in 51 seconds in the quarterfinals. He then went on to pin Connor Calkins from RIT and defeated Castleton’s Jesse Webb in the championship matchup.
“He kept his composure throughout these really tough matches and his technique is better,” head coach Jason Holder said. “He’s trying to figure things out. He’s become a smart wrestler, knowing how to execute a game plan, his strategies on the mat are pretty good, and he’s staying focused. As a team overall, we’ve been pretty focused.”
And focused they were, as the Pride improved from their 5th place score of 27.5 points on Friday to finish in 4th place out of 12 schools with 112.5 points on Saturday. With great performances by many, Fusco winning out one of the weight classes speaks volumes about his leadership role on the team.
“He was selected as a captain this year for our team as a junior, he’s certainly taken on that leadership role,” Holder said. “Joe (Fusco) took that on as a freshman. We didn’t really choose him as a leader, but it’s that personality that he has. He’s not afraid to step up from his freshman year to now his junior year. He’s not afraid to say what’s on his mind and hold people accountable, and hold himself accountable as well.”
Holder is entering his eighth year as the head coach for Springfield College wrestling, and Fusco is just one example of many hardworking teammates. Holder connects wrestling with life lessons, one of them being accountability.
“We’ve done a great job on and off the mat,” junior Roger Moyer said. “Coach (Holder) has helped develop a culture that makes us want to excel in the classroom and stay out of trouble. The bar has been set so high, so we want to succeed.”
With the first competition of the season under their belt, the Pride made a statement. The team is in good spirits about their performance as well as the season ahead.
“We definitely came in with more energy and stamina than the other teams. You’d see other guys from other schools looking tired and gassed,” sophomore Alec Falconer said. “The team is hyped; best start we’ve had in a few years.”
The Pride next compete in their home opener, the City of Springfield Championship, which will take place on Saturday. Springfield has matches at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Photo courtesy of Springfield Athletics