In his second bout of the day, 165 pound junior Aarin Feliz approached the mat for his quarterfinal matchup against Alex Frometa of Coast Guard. The two went back and forth, taking each other down multiple times throughout three periods of wrestling. At one point, Feliz was in a headlock and managed to squirm out and take down Frometa in a ferocious counterattack. A takedown by Frometa in the third period gave him an 8-7 lead. Feliz answered right back with a takedown of his own, and regained the lead 9-8. As Feliz labored to keep him on the ground, the clock slowly ticked from twenty seconds down to ten, then five. The referee blew the whistle, indicating a restart, and the two wrestlers went back the center of the mat. Feliz knew that his opponent was going to do anything to get that tying point. The whistle blew, and Frometa charged like a bull. Feliz stood his ground and prevailed for a 9-8 semifinal clinching win in what seemed like an endless five seconds. Feliz pumped his fist and let out a loud burst of excitement that echoed throughout the Field House.
Feliz, along with Norberto Torres, Hunter Ayen, George Tarwo, Joe Fusco, and Ian Tolotti advanced to the semifinals in their individual weight classes at the annual Doug Parker Invitational on Saturday. The Pride placed third out of 18 teams in the tournament with 106 points. Head coach Jason Holder thought the team could have done better.
“We got a lot of work to do. That is what the beginning of the season is about. We had some guys that stepped up and wrestled pretty tough.”
Sophomore Ian Tolotti turned in a great day, as he won the championship in the 133 pound bracket. After a dominating 14-2 win in the semifinals, he was set to face Fran Palagruto, who had beat Norberto Torres in the semifinals. A takedown in the third period sealed the victory for Tolotti, as he defeated Palagruto 6-2.
Torres and Tarwo were a group of freshmen who had an impressive day for the Pride. Torres finished third place in the 133 pound weight class, going 4-1 for the day. His best match of the day was when he picked up a 16-0 win in the round of 16. Although Tarwo is listed as 184 on the roster, he wrestled at 197 and finished fourth place. In his quarterfinal bout, it only took him 45 seconds to pin his opponent. These two first years led the group of freshman who had a productive day for the Pride.
“They work hard. They have to realize that there’s a learning curve to college wrestling. I think they’re going to get a lot better as the season continues,” said Holder.
Another sophomore who advanced to the championship was Fusco in the 285 bracket. After pinning his first two opponents, the semifinals matchup was much more of a challenge. Fusco had a 10-8 lead approaching the end of the match when Nicholas Fortini took him down to tie the score 10-10. With under ten seconds left, Fusco gained the point he needed to advance to the championship. Unfortunately, he was pinned in the title bout and finished second place for the day. Holder praised Fusco’s efforts.
“He worked hard over the summer. He is a fantastic leader on our team. He does the right things. He is a good kid. He is going to really help us a lot this year and years down the road.”
The Pride will take a much needed 12 days to rest and prepare as they will travel to Messiah College to participate in the two day Messiah Petrofes Invitational.