On Friday night the Springfield College Wrestling team hosted its fourth annual “Friday Night Lights event in Blake Arena. Despite the Pride trailing the nationally ranked Lions of TCNJ 27-3 in the matchup and losing eight of the first nine matches, the crowd roared as the theme song of WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin played as sophomore heavyweight Joe Fusco ran down the stairs.
Despite the Pride’s struggles all night, the crowd was alive as Fusco did everything he could to hype them up. Fusco sent the fans in attendance home with an air of satisfaction as he pinned opponent Kyle Cocozza 37 seconds into the third period.
Coming off the New England Wrestling Association (NEWA) duels the Pride didn’t come out as healthy as they would have likes, but head coach Jason Holder isn’t worried.
“It’s that time of year. We’re coming off the NEWA duels and that was a tough day, injury wise. We had good matchups tonight especially at heavyweight and with [Ryan] Peters. We were hoping to see Aarin [Feliz] come out with a win, but you know it was just a tough night.”
Despite Fusco and Peters picking up the Pride’s only two wins on the night, Holder remained optimistic about what he saw.
“We had a lot of guys wrestle close matches including Nick Derosa who wrestled well and fought pretty hard tonight. There’s a lot of little things we can work on technique wise as we prep them for regionals.
For the Pride things got off to a rough start against the 19th ranked Lions as the team dropped the first three matches 125, 133, and 141 to go down 10-0. Despite dropping the three matches, Springfield got gritty efforts by Joel Zambrano and Nicholas Derosa who, despite losing, fought tough in their respective matches. Zambrano fell 8-2 while Derosa was defeated 6-2.
One of the Pride’s bright spots of the night came at 149 when freshman Ryan Peters got Springfield on the board with a 4-2 decision over Eric Friedman. Unfortunately for the Pride this would be one of only two wins on the night. After Peters’ victory, the team would go onto lose the next five weight classes: 157, 165, 174, 184, and 197. Despite these loses, the Pride had some very hard-fought battles against the Lions.
No battle was fought harder than at 165. Feliz lost a nail biter 5-4 to JT Beirne. With just under a minute in the third period, Feliz appeared to score a takedown which would have given him a one-point lead, but the referee awarded zero points and left Feliz with an agonizing one-point loss.
Despite trailing 27-3 going into the last match, everyone in the crowd knew it was time for Fusco to put on a show. As Fusco pinned his opponent, the crowd went crazy. Despite the score, it showed the type of fight the entire team displayed throughout the night.
“They battled hard that’s all that I can ask for. They are very coachable and they work hard. That’s translates well for the entire team as we head towards regionals.”
After the loss tonight, the Pride jump right back into action tonight as they travel to face Wesleyan at 6:30 pm in Middletown, CT in a rematch of Sunday’s NEWA Dual Championship seventh place match won by Wesleyan.