The College’s 30th-ranked wrestling squad packed its bags, boarded the bus and drove four and a half hours to Massachusetts this past weekend — all with one goal in mind: to go 4-0. While the men had a valiant effort, they fell just one point short of completing their mission.
In their opening match against No. 15 Roger Williams University, the College was narrowly defeated 19-18. Although disappointed, the Lions were not deterred and stormed back to take the final three matches to complete their trip in the Bay State.
“I think the only difference from the beginning of the day to the end was that in the beginning, we lost a couple of the close matches that could have went either way,” senior 174-pounder Zach Zotollo said. “I think everyone wrestled well throughout, but we lost a couple close matches early on, and that was the differenc maker.”
In the morning match against Roger Williams, the Lions started out strong and led 18-10 heading into the final three duals. Unfortunately, their lead was simply not enough.
“We very easily could have won that match because we pushed the pace on them and we were really aggressive,” Zotollo said. “We just came out shorthanded, and I think that everybody was happy overall because we did wrestle well (against them).”
The final two matches on the first day were different, though, as the Lions were never pressured, beating Bridgewater State University 39-9 and Williams College 37-9. Zotollo was especially proud of the way the team competed against the Purple Cows of Williams College.
“We wrestled really well and I think that was our best overall dual meet this season,” Zotollo said. “They are a tough team and we expected a close match, but we ended up winning (pretty easily).”
The final match of the weekend against No. 19 Springfield College was an important one for the Lions, because they wanted to finish the weekend off strong. Once again, the Lions built up an impressive lead to start the match and was able to hold Springfield off by the final score of 24-18. After composing a 3-1 record in Massachusetts, the Lions are now 8-5 on the season and in prime position to make a run to the NCAA Tournament.
Next Friday, Feb. 7, the Lions are at home against No. 9 Wilkes University for Alumni Night. The match begins at 7 p.m., but the fans are advised to arrive early, because the first 300 spectators at the match will receive a free T-shirt.
“We are trying to fill the stands and get as many fans there as we can,” Zotollo said. “There’s going to be a lot of alumni and (1981 national champion at 177 pounds) Mike Jacoutot will be giving a speech midway through the match … We are trying to create a more fun atmosphere, which will get people going and get them into the match.”