By Chris Gionta
Since Springfield College senior wrestler Chris Trelli got a starting role his sophomore year, he has done more than everything to maintain it. In the 2019-20 season, he put together an overall record of 23-4, qualified for nationals, and was named a Division III All-American. Two years later, despite roadblocks, he is on the same track of excellence.
“My first year, I was a backup, and I didn’t love being a backup,” said Trelli. “But, I kind of understood my role and understood my place at that time — coming in as a first-year. So, I kind of wanted to change that.”
He came onto Alden Street with an already-impressive resumé. At Bristol Central High School, Trelli placed in the top five in the state tournament every year he was there and ended up winning the state championship in his senior year. Thus, a backup role was something to get used to for Trelli.
He competed in two matches in his first year at Springfield and won both. Competition was much more frequent for Trelli in his sophomore season; however, his first tournament did not ensue in an ideal manner and he lost twice.
Trelli only lost one more time in the regular season while winning 18 times in that span. At the Northeast Regional, he lost his first match and needed five consecutive victories at the event in order to qualify for nationals. He ended up doing exactly what he needed to do with those five matches.
Trelli credits a lot of his success from his sophomore year to committing himself further and shifting his mindset.
“A lot of stuff goes unnoticed,” said Trelli. “I was getting in extra workouts during the day. I would go in in the morning and work with coaches… my mindset changed. My first year, I was just kind of going through the motions. I wasn’t extremely dedicated. But after that, I just hit a groove and kept riding.”
The 2019-20 All-American rode a lot of momentum into his junior year, but unfortunately, there was no competition in the 2020-21 season. It took a surplus of mental strength to maintain his level of work ethic during that season.
“I actually talked to my coaches about this when we were going through it all,” Trelli said. “And at first, I kind of thought there was no purpose behind practicing and stuff like that — there was really no incentive to work out.
“But then, they said, ‘Yeah, we may not be competing this year, but you’re still working out, getting better, and training for next year.’ So I kind of put that in perspective and really thought, just because we can’t compete, doesn’t mean I can’t get better.”
Inevitably, his continuous effort has led to him earning an 18-2 record so far this season. This is despite missing some competition due to testing positive for COVID-19. He was forced to miss a meet and quarantine, but this did not halt his momentum whatsoever, as he has been undefeated since getting out of isolation.
This did not come without its challenges, however.
“[The toughest challenge was] definitely cardio. I was exhausted,” said Trelli. “It was tough for me because I came back on Friday, and then we went to a competition that Saturday morning.”
Trelli knew that he had not trained in a significant amount of time, but he was still confident because of the amount of preparation he had done prior to the quarantine.
“With all the months leading up to that, I still felt confident in my talent,” he said.
Only a couple of weeks remain until regionals for Division III wrestling, which is something that is not lost on any of the top competitors like Trelli. He finished third in the region in his weight class his sophomore year and intends to take the top spot in 2022.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics