With just seconds remaining on the scoreboard overlooking Blake Arena, slowly winding down toward zero, the energy on the mat was intense.
Both the sidelines of the Springfield College and Western New England University wrestling programs were on their feet, emphatically cheering on their 184-pound class teammates. But for Pride junior Max Grzymala, he was completely unfazed by the noise.
“Honestly, I wasn’t really thinking of anything,” Grzymala said. “I was just just wrestling.”
Coming into the third and final period, Gryzmala found himself down 5-3 in a much needed win. Although Springfield was still ahead in the overall match, after racing out to a 15-0 lead, it had dropped the last three matches — all by major decision.
WNE stormed back into contention only trailing 15-12. If Gryzmala lost this match as well, the Pride would enter the 197 match tied at 15, giving WNE all the momentum.
And with just seconds left in that final set, and being controlled on the mat underneath his opponent, it appeared as if that was going to be the case. But Gryzmala had other plans.
In one clean, cohesive motion, Gryzmala gathered himself, and with his arms wrapped tightly against his opponent, he mustered the strength to completely flip him around.
With a roar from the Springfield sideline, the referee held up two fingers – signaling that Gryzmala had just pulled off an incredible feat. His last second takedown gave him the two points he needed to win the match.
“Our coaches always tell us to just keep pressing, keep fighting,” Gryzmala said. “[Coaches tell us] that we’re the toughest guys in the country, and that no matter what, just keep wrestling and good things will happen.”
Not only did Gryzmala nab such an exciting win, but he did so outside of his weight class. Normally a 174, he was pushed up into the 184 slot due to team injuries.
Springfield head coach, Jason Holder, had to move a few athletes into different weight classes, but overall, he was very pleased with how they did.
“It was exciting,” Holder said. “We had some guys out, but having some other guys step up was great to see. We had to bump some guys up in weight; we bumped our 65 to 74, our 74, Grzymala to 84 and he had a really exciting match there. That was awesome. He was able to grind that one out, it was a great match.”
Gryzmala’s crucial victory set up an impressive 33-second pin in the heavyweight division by Pride’s Michael Filieri. After gaining inside positing, Filieri sent his opponent to the ground with a thunderous slam, securing six points for the match, while also giving Springfield the 23-16 overall victory to take home the City of Springfield Championship; which they have not lost since the 2017-18 season.
To open up the day, Springfield demonstrated utter dominance over Springfield Technical Community College, blowing them out 50-0, securing a position in the championship round.
After getting out to an early lead, as Carlos Arango would pin his opponent at 125 to give the Pride a 6-0 advantage, Springfield cruised on. Joey Parsons and Luke Temple extended the lead to 21-0 off of a 6-1 decision at 141 and a pin at 149, respectively. The Pride would go on to win all ten matches, highlighted by tough bouts by Sam Ware, Gryzmala, and Filieri.
In the final duel of the day with WNE, Joey Manginelli started off the Pride with a pin, followed by his brother, Gianni Manginelli, winning by decision. With wins at the 141 and 149, Springfield looked primed to stroll into a victory, but dropped the next three matches by major decision.
Coach Holder believes that as a team, they fought hard, and did very well.
“It was a great, great overall event. Now we’re on to the Doug Parker [Invitational], and improving from this week to next week,” he said.
Photo by Braedan Shea/The Student