Despite a great team effort, the host Springfield College wrestling team fell Sunday afternoon to The College of New Jersey, 24-18.
Starting off the meet in the 165-lbs. weight class, the Pride lost three straight matches and were down 15-0, until freshman Hunter Ayen defeated Frank Crocco with a score of 7-5 to bring the Pride to 15-3.
The team gained momentum after Ayen’s win and were able to pick up another victory by sophomore Irakli Kakauridze in the 285-lbs. weight class, with a score of 6-3.
“I thought as we went along we were wrestling better,” said head coach Jay Holder.
With a score of 15-6, the Pride went into the 125-lbs. weight class match with Tom Casper, a senior who has been the top wrestler this season. After Casper started the match strong, however, he had to be taken off the mat in the first period due to a leg injury.
The Pride regrouped and took three of the remaining four matches, at the 133-, 149- and 157-lbs. weight classes.
Sophomore Tyler Keane took the 133-lbs. match with the only pin for the Pride wrestling team that afternoon, defeating TCNJ’s James Gill, at a time of 5:42.
After a close 3-1 decision loss by freshman Jacob Strohman in the 141-lbs. weight class, the Pride finished the match taking the last two matches thanks to two strong competitors.
Junior Eric Hamrick and senior Devin Biscaha earned the wins at the 149- and 157-lbs. weight classes.
Hamrick, a returning junior, defeated Dylan Thorsen with a 6-4 decision.
“[Eric] Hamrick wrestled a really tough kid,” explained Holder. “That was a really good win for him.”
Biscaha, the defending national champion for his weight class, finished up the afternoon, shutting out his opponent Jesse Thorsen with a decision win of 6-0.
Despite the duo’s strong finish, but the Pride still fell short, 24-18.
“It’s just telling ourselves what we are going to do from this point on,” said Holder.
With a little more than a month left of the season, the Pride plan on improving and moving forward with film study and practice, while continuing to make a final push to the regional tournament.
The Pride will continue their home stand on Saturday, Feb. 8 with three matches, hosting Johnson and Wales, Plymouth State and Trinity.