SPRINGFIELD — This was it. One last rodeo in Blake Arena. The crowd erupted as Aarin Feliz blew a kiss to them having just defeated his opponent in overtime. Feliz knew that as a senior, he just wrestled for the last time at Springfield College. Senior day marked the final home wrestling event for the Pride, and with 10 of them on the team, it was a very special day.
“For me, senior day is the accumulation of all the hard work and effort you’ve done to put on a show for your home crowd just one last time,” said Feliz. “To go out there and just lay it all out on the line because that literally is your last time performing, however, you gotta focus on the task at hand and after it’s over, enjoy it. Enjoy the people you’re with, enjoy your team, but take care of business because that’s the primary focus.”
Taking care of business proved difficult as four matches resulted in overtime periods and the 133 bout was decided by a single point in Wesleyan’s favor. Joe Fusco pinned his opponent in just 56 seconds, although the Pride only won three bouts.
For the seniors, it was a bittersweet end at home as Wesleyan won 23-15. Although the season isn’t over, the home events are, and for the seniors, the crowd supported them and gave them quite a sendoff.
“It’s nice, especially when you look at the crowd and you see a lot of people there,” said Feliz. “I was blessed and pretty fortunate that, I’m a student teacher so both my two cooperative teachers, they both showed up. A lot of my friends showed up. I’m an RA, an NSO leader, a lot of my NSOers and residents showed up so it was amazing to have them around for such a special day like this and for my family to drive two and a half hours from New Jersey to come up here and see my old drill partner come up here and see it. Just being able to put on one last hoorah for the crowd, I’m not one to boast or glamor but that kiss to the crowd was like a final goodbye and I’m very grateful for that.”
The ceremony before the match saw a bulk of the Pride honored. The 2018-2019 wrestling season saw a substantial increase in upperclassmen on the team.
“This is a big group of seniors,” said head coach Jason Holder. “Last year we only had one. Two years ago we didn’t have too many and this year we have 10. That’s a pretty big number and it’s awesome. It kind of goes to show where we are.
With so many older members on the team, there’s certainly a lot of experience within the roster. This experience has helped younger teammates and created a greater bond in the locker room.
“Those seniors have been huge for the leadership of this team and the culture has really shifted because of their strong leadership and commitment to Springfield College wrestling,” said Holder. “It’s awesome having them and they’re all special in their own special ways, you have guys that are three-year starters and guys that are always there working hard in the room.”
He added, “Ten people that contribute a lot to the program and have really been committed and dedicated and have done good things. So I was proud to have those guys out there and it was great to see all the parents and support. It was nice to have the parents there and see them represented and it was a pretty cool group picture.”
The Pride will continue the rest of their season on the road starting Jan. 27that 10am with the Wildcat Open in Providence, R.I. F