There’s only one goal in mind. Regionals. With the NCAA Division-III regional championships approaching soon, the Springfield College wrestling team is zeroed in on getting ready for them.
“This is the final push,” said head coach Jason Holder. “We’re three weeks on Saturday from the regional tournament. At this point in the season it’s health. We have guys who haven’t been healthy in the second half and for a little while now and we’re just working and doing our best to keep them healthy, keep them in great shape, and fine tune our stuff before the regional tournament because ultimately the regional tournament will get you to nationals. The national tournament is where our goals are. To get on that podium at the national tournament.”
With so many injuries on the team, it’s been a challenge to work around it. Shifting the roster and putting wrestlers in different weight classes has been a key tactic employed by Springfield. Members of the Pride have been called on by Holder to step up and take on more responsibility in higher weight classes.
“The last couple weeks we’ve been beat up,” said Holder. “We’ve had to make moves, we’ve had to shift people, we’ve bumped guys up. It’s been a little messy as far as wins and losses but at the same time you have to keep that end result in mind, and that’s important.”
Although, the affected wrestlers have made the necessary adjustments.
“We’ve had a lot of good performances with guys who step in, fill in, and they do a good job and I can’t say enough for guys who have really filled in. Nick Monteleone has done a great job for us. Ryan Graves bumped up to wrestle 197, Monteleone bumped up to 157. [Michael] Vietri’s been great, St. Jean, all those guys have played really big, important roles for us this year. We just have to get everyone healthy and tuned up for the regional tournament. That’s what it really comes down to.”
The Pride defeated Plymouth State in a blowout 47-6 victory in a quad meet hosted by Johnson & Wales on Saturday, Feb. 2. However, they lost to both Johnson & Wales — who is nationally ranked — and Castleton while finishing 1-2. With another match this Saturday, player health remains the highest concern.
“Player health is really important, really huge,” said team manager Griffin Reid. “We’ve had some recent injuries that can prolong and knock people out for a while if you don’t take a stand at this moment and get them fixed up and working right.”
With the team not 100% healthy and WPI bringing good competition, the Pride will be put to the test this weekend.
“They’re good. They’re good, you know?” said Holder. “Everyone is good especially this time of the year. We have to do the best we can to get points and execute our stuff. These guys work hard and when they wrestle hard I’m not disappointed. If we go out and work hard, wrestle hard, then good things will happen. We just have to execute what we’re teaching over and over in the room.”
The Pride will take the mat on Saturday Feb. 9 at 5pm in Worcester, Mass. as they take on WPI.
Photo Courtesy Helen Lucas