Providence, R.I. - January 20, 2019 - The Springfield College wrestling team finished third at the New England Dual Meet Championship on Sunday at the Rhode Island Convention Center. It marked Springfield's best finish in the regional championship since the Pride finished second in 2014.
Originally set for a 16-team field, six teams withdrew from the championship due to a winter storm that hit the region on Saturday. With a shift in the bracket and schedule, the Pride opened the tournament against Wesleyan and rallied for a 17-15 win. After the Cardinals earned a decision at 125 to start the contest, Springfield responded with a pair of decisions to regain a 6-3 edge. Ian Tolotti (Dumont, N.J.) grinded out a 1-0 decision over Tristan Stetson at 133 before Michael Vietri (Dumont, N.J.) followed with a 6-1 victory at 141 over James Matias. The Cardinals responded with three-straight decisions at 149, 157, and 165 to double up the Pride at 12-6, only to have Aarin Feliz (Lake Hawatha, N.J.) deliver a critical 6-4 win over Marco Gaita at 174 and classmate Seve Burgos (Guilford, Conn.) follow with a 6-3 win at 184. Wesleyan would then their fifth decision of the day at 197 to go up 15-12, but Springfield's Joseph Fusco (Billerica, Mass.) again delivered in a clutch spot, pinning Owen Verespy in just 42 seconds to surge the Pride to a 17-15 win.
In the semifinals, Springfield squared off against Johnson & Wales, who entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in the country in the most recently NWCA National Poll. The Wildcats cruised to a 48-0 win as they produce five victories by pinfall, three by major decision, and two by decision.
Springfield concluded the weekend going up against Roger Williams in the third-place match, and the Pride prevailed in thrilling fashion, 17-16, to defeat the Hawks for the first time since 2010. Roger Williams entered the championship ranked 18th in the nation. Springfield got off to a strong start with three-consecutive decisions to start the match, as Nicholas DeRosa (Billerica, Mass.) edged Kyle Kaiser at 125, 4-3, before Jacques St. Jean (Goffstown, N.H.) produced a 7-3 decision at 133 over Sean Wieck, and Vietri followed with a 5-4 triumph over Chris Fuschetto at 141. The Hawks responded with three-straight decisions of their own, but Feliz delivered a 6-4 victory in overtime at 174 against Travis Arata to break the 9-9 tie. RWU answered back with a major decision at 184 and benefitted from Springfield losing a point from misconduct to gain a 13-11 edge, and tacked on a decision at 197 to extend a 16-11 cushion. Needing six points at 285 to pull off the win, Fusco battled his way to a 7-1 lead midway through the third, only to have the Hawks disqualified after Adam Patsun was whistled for excessive stalling. With the DQ, Springfield was awarded six points, and earned the third-place regional finish as a team. For this efforts on the day, Fusco was named to the All-Championship Team.
The Pride is back in action next Friday when it travels to New Jersey to face nationally-ranked TCNJ at 6 pm.