By Evan Wheaton
SPRINGFIELD —There are many pivotal figures within the sports world, and one of them has substantial history with Springfield College. Doug Parker served as the wrestling head coach and a professor of physical education from 1955-1990.
Compiling a record of 485 victories, 22 New England Championship titles, and 35 straight winning seasons, Parker put Springfield College wrestling on the map. Everyone in the locker room understands and respects what Parker has done for the school as well as the sport of wrestling, including second-year grad assistant coach Jimmy Kaishian.
“Last year our motto was ‘leave your legacy’ and we’ve been trying to instill that in the guys,” Kaishan said. “The sport, the program, it’s bigger than one individual. Doug Parker built a program here and it lasted for a while. The wrestling room is named after him, the tournament is named after him, we were blessed with his presence today, and it meant a lot to the guys seeing Doug Parker there. It meant a lot to see the alumni come back and what it means to be a part of the Pride.”
The annual Doug Parker Invitational was a highly successful one for the Pride on Saturday in the Field House. After scoring 111.5 team points, Springfield won the tournament for the fourth time in six years. Everyone stepped up this past Saturday, and the tournament was highlighted by individual titles for Ryan Peters and Joe Fusco.
“I think Ryan (Peters) is doing a good job, he has an interesting style,” Pride head coach Jason Holder said. “He still has a lot to work on, which is a great sign. He’s winning, but we have a lot of things to improve on. He works hard, he’s a fierce competitor, and he’s always in the match. He wrestled well and he had a standout performance.”
Peters won five straight matches at 141 to win out the weight class. Fusco also secured his second weight class title of the season at 285.
“It feels really good,” Fusco said. “My first two matches of the day were pretty easy; my finals match was really tough. In the finals match, it was a tough opponent and I was really fortunate to put him away early.”
Early is an understatement as Fusco pinned Coast Guard’s Patrick Irwin in just 35 seconds. Although a short bout, it proved to be tricky.
“Fusco was tested, which is great,” Holder said. “This is a great tournament with a lot of good wrestlers and competitors so it’s good for Joe (Fusco). He wrestled really tough and did pretty well. In the finals there was a couple offensive decisions that he could’ve made better, but he was able to get the job done.”
Fusco’s dominant streak so far this year is not the only thing he offers to the team. Throughout other matchups, Fusco helps support and instruct his fellow wrestlers on the mat, a characteristic that has evolved throughout the past three years.
“I just feel like over time the leadership role I’ve developed with this team is just remarkable,” Fusco said. “I didn’t see myself coming in and taking a role like this as a freshman, and it’s really just a blessing. On top of my wrestling career, that’s something that I’ve developed that I can use the rest of my life.”
Having won two straight team championships at home, the Pride will have a week of rest before setting their sights on the Petrofes Invitational hosted by Messiah College. The two-day event kicks off on Friday, Nov. 30 at 12pm.
Featured photo courtesy of Chris Barry