By Braedan Shea
After a long, grueling season away from competition, Springfield College and men’s wrestling have been once again reunited, bringing to a close the seemingly eternal offseason.
The Springfield wrestling team was ecstatic to make its return to the mats this past weekend during the annual Ithaca Invitational, marking the first competition since the NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Championships that occurred on March 1, 2020.
“It feels great to compete again, get around the country, see where everyone else is at,” said Sam Ware, a junior in the 197-pound weight class. “It just feels great to be back on the mat in a competitive sense.”
In their first event in 614 days, the Pride placed sixth out of the 11 teams during the two-day competition, posting 84.5 points, falling behind Ithaca who scored 89.5 points, Baldwin Wallace with 130 points, Castleton with 135 points, Stevens with 152 points, and Johnson & Wales, who won the event with 154 points.
Although finishing sixth, there were some promising performances for Springfield. Senior Chris Trelli and junior Chase Parrot were runners-up in their respective weight classes. Trelli, who earned NWCA All-American honors during the 2019-2020 season, put on quite the performance in an incredibly deep 141-pound weight class, one in which that highlighted four of the top 10 wrestlers in the nation.
In day two of the competition, after powering through Norwich’s Joseph Lotruglio in a 13-0 major decision, he took down the nation’s No. 4 ranked Hayden Brown of Johnson & Wales, 5-4, in the semifinals. Trelli would eventually fall to Kyle Slendorn of Stevens by way of pinfall in the finals.
Parrot had similar success in the 149-pound weight class. The junior from Stamford, Conn., began his second day with a quick win over Victor Perlleshi of Johnson & Wales by a score of 6-4, and was granted a championship berth by way of injury default against Gabriel McDaniel of Johnson & Wales. In the finals, Parrot was pinned by Brett Kaliner of Stevens.
For the rest of the season, Springfield looks to build upon what they were able to achieve two years ago. During the 2019-2020 season, the last time a season was held, the wrestling team posted a record of 17-5 and capped off its season by placing fourth of 17 at the NCAA Northeast Regional Championship, including having four wrestlers qualify for nationals.
First-year students Zack Lawrence and Joey Manginelli, sophomore Chris Trelli and senior Joseph Fusco each placed top three in their respective weight classes, earning them an automatic qualification to the NCAA Division III Championships that were slated to take place on March 13 and 14 in the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before the global pandemic called for a cancellation. Along with the great athletic performances, head coach Jason Holder’s efforts were acknowledged, earning him the Northeast Region Co-Coach of the Year.
There is optimism from the team that they will be able to do just as good, if not better, than two years ago.
“I think we expect some big things this year. We have a lot returning, and we have some returning national qualifiers from the past,” said Ware.
Some of the key returnees for the upcoming season are of course Chris Trelli, who ranked ninth in the preseason National Division III rankings in the 141 weight class, along with junior Joey Magnelli, who ranked seventh in the 125 weight class.
Along with the recognition of Springfields athletes, just the concept of competing again is all that they need. “When we actually have a goal to compete towards, it’s nice,” explained Ware.
To begin the season, however, the goal is quite simple:
“Getting back into it is all we really want to do,” said Ware.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics