Coming off of an impressive regular season with top-eight finishes in all of its six tournament invitational appearances – three of which were top two overall – and a 14-6 record in duel matches, the Springfield College wrestling team is preparing for the most important tournament of the year.
On Friday, Feb. 24, 16 members of the Pride program will be making the near three-and-a-half hour bus ride to Gorham, Maine for the 2023 NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Championships ﹣ a tournament that Springfield believes they can win.
“If they wrestle up to, or exceed their expectations, or the expectations of others, and not our expectations; then they can certainly do something special,” head coach Jason Holder said. “It’s exciting to think about. It’s going to be a wild one. A wild weekend.”
Holder isn’t alone in his hopes for the regional championships. Jacob Deguire, a 157-pound sophomore, also finds that this is a team that not only can bring home a regional championship to Alden Street, but can send multiple, if not all, competing athletes to the NCAA Division III Championships held in Roanoke, Va.
“We all have to perform to the best of our ability, which we can,” Deguire said. “ And it would be great. Just seeing everyone else compete is awesome, and if we can go out and be us, we could send everyone to D-IIIs. That’d be awesome.”
In order to qualify for the Division III Championship, a wrestler must place in the top three of their respective weight class at Regionals. Senior Joey Manginelli is the only person on the roster who has qualified for the national tournament in previous years.
As a two-time national qualifier, last season marked the first time that Manginelli was able to wrestle at the NCAA Championships, as he had qualified for the national event as a freshman in 2020 before the pandemic canceled the championship.
The team has put a lot of emphasis on preparation for regionals, but the best preparation comes from experience.
“At this point, I think our guys are well prepared,” Holder said. “The nice thing is, that aside from a couple of them, most of the guys who are going in wrestling this weekend have competed in this tournament before. They should know what to expect. And they’ve had a good season so far, but at the same time, they know that you just don’t show up to this tournament.”
As one of the members of the team who has been to the tournament before, placing fifth at 157 last season, Deguire looks to stay in the moment to perform well.
“I’m just trying to stay focused, get my weight down and get me prepared so I don’t force everything at the last minute,” he said. “I’m also trying to get my weight down lower than normal so I don’t have to work out extra when I get there.”
Although the team is bringing 16 wrestlers along, only 10 can compete. The additional six will not only be working out with the team, but also in getting to see how their teammates get ready and carry themselves during a big tournament.
“Modeling is awesome,” Holder said. “Our guys are really responsible. They work hard. They’re disciplined. They’re dedicated to doing the right things. Right now, especially leading up to the regional tournament, they’re locked in already focused. And that’s good for our guys to see. And we’re even bringing some of the younger guys to work out too so they can see what’s going on and how things are. It’s good for those guys to get a model of how things are done.”
With great preparation, and an even better roster, Springfield will look to continue its strong season into the biggest tournament of the year thus far.
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics