By Kevin Saxe
The Springfield College wrestling team led WPI 16-12 in their senior night duel. Despite the four point lead for the Pride, it was the Engineers that had all of the momentum before the Pride won 27-12.
Getting set to wrestle for the Pride was first-year Sam Ware. Ware, who’s had a solid first-year campaign got set to face fellow freshman Tyler Riggs. Within the first ten seconds of the match Riggs scored a take down and it looked like the match would be decided at heavyweight. In an instant, Ware would escape then go on the attack. After scoring the takedown about halfway through the first, Ware would come away with the pin to clinch the match for the Pride at the 2:12 mark in the first period. Head Coach Jason Holder had some high praise for Ware after the match.
“Sam [Ware], he’s surprisingly strong. He moves and he doesn’t stop wrestling. If you don’t bring it he can put you on your back. He wrestled a very good opponent. It was an interesting match and it was fun to watch.”
Before the start of the match the Pride had a chance to honor their senior class for their contributions to the program. One of those members of the senior class was Roger Moyer. Although his match was an exhibition before the duel started, Holder praised Moyer for his contributions to the program.
“That was a special moment because he came back in that match and wrestled real tough. Guys selected him as one of the top leaders as a captain on the team. He didn’t start but he’s so passionate about the sport. It’s really tough to wrestle for four years at the college level.”
Following the exhibition matches, the Pride jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to the Manginelli twins at 125 and 133. First up Joey at 125 would dominate to the tune of a pin over Christian Chadwick in just 1:45. Next up Gianni would grind out a 15-5 major decision victory over Chris Cook. Following a dominating effort from the Manginelli twins, Mike Vietri wrestling at 141 would use a strong period to defeat Carter Lewis 16-10 for a 13-0 Pride. The final of the four straight victories would come in come behind fashion from sophomore Joseph Parsons who scored an 11-10 victory at 149 over Ronan Bell for a 16-0 lead. Although it wasn’t necessarily his best match Holder praised the effort of Parsons to comeback.
“[Joe] Parsons put himself in a whole but he wrestled back tough and he found a way to win and sometimes that’s what you have to do. It doesn’t always go the way we plan it, but you find a way to win and that’s what he did.”
Following Parsons win the Engineers ripped off four straight wins by decision at 157, 165, 174, and 184. Despite the four consecutive losses, each loss came by decision, most notably at 165 where first-year Zack Lawrence fell to the top ranked wrestler in the region Tyler Marsh who is also a two time national qualifier 7-6 in riding time.
“Zack Lawrence wrestled real well,” said Holder. “I thought he battled hard and did a great job. He lost the match but he really battled hard.”
After Ware would get the match clinching pin, it was time for the closer, in Joe Fusco. Although the match was won, Fusco put on a show with a tech fall victory over Cam Smith early in the third period. For Fusco who wrestled his final match of his career in Blake Arena, he talked about his competing at Blake one final time.
“It was awesome, I had a ton of family come out today. I remember the first time I competed in here like it was yesterday. I was a wide eyed nineteen year old freshmen and now I’m leaving here a twenty-two year old grown man with a job. It’s been a crazy ride.”
After competing for the final time at home this season some members of the Pride will compete next Saturday Feb. 22 at the NEWA Futures at Western New England. The regional qualifiers for the Pride meanwhile, will gear up for the New England Regionals in Providence, RI that are being held on Saturday Feb. 29 and Sunday Mar. 1.
Photo courtesy of Jack Margaros