The Wesleyan University wrestling team—ranked No. 2 in the NEWA Preseason Poll and No. 20 in the country—opens its 2017-18 campaign this Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Roger Williams Tournament, which features several top programs in the northeast, including No. 4 Messiah and No. 6 Johnson & Wales.
Head Coach Drew Black returns for his 20th season at the helm of the program and looks to build off an impressive 2016-17 season in which the Cardinals sent two athletes to the NCAA Championships—Devon Carrillo '17E and Carter Armendarez '18—and finished 9-7 overall in dual matches including five-straight wins to end the season. Wesleyan also won both of its dual matches against Williams College.
The 2017-18 unit returns almost every member from last year's team, 13 total, while introducing seven newcomers.
MEET THE TEAM:
- Black welcomes back Carrillo, who returns to the program for a post-graduate year. The Middletown, Conn. native has excelled in only two years wrestling at the collegiate level as he qualified for the NCAA Tournament both seasons. A year ago, in addition to being named the 2017 Connecticut Male Athlete of the Year for his success in both football and wrestling, the dual-sport athlete was also named to the All-NEWA First Team after posting a 22-3 overall record at 197. He finished second at the regionals to qualify for the national postseason tournament and was consistently one of the top wrestlers at 197 in the country throughout the season.
- Armendarez looks to build off an impressive junior campaign in which he finished third overall at regionals (149) despite entering the tournament as the sixth-seed. At the NCAA Championships, Armendarez upset the No. 5 seed to advance to the quarterfinals. He was named an All-NEWA Second Team selection after posting a 19-10 record as a junior.
- Seniors Isaiah Bellamy and Dominic Pirraglia, and junior James Matias return to the program after impressive 2016-17 seasons in which all three were named All-NEWA Honorable Mentions.
- Bellamy, in his first season wrestling at heavyweight, finished sixth at the regionals and posted an 18-7 record for the year. Pirraglio also placed sixth at the regionals and went 22-15 overall last year at 174.
- Matias, who was a 2015-16 All-NEWA Rookie Team selection, earned his second honorable mention after posting a 23-11 record at 141 as a sophomore.
- New to the team this year will be senior Edward Pierce, sophomore Krzysztof Nizielski, and freshmen Simon Chee, Jason Fong, Andrew Hennessy, Harrison Karp, and Kasim Khan.
HEAD COACH DREW BLACK:
- "Our team motto this season is "Believeland", the road to Cleveland, Ohio who is hosting the NCAA Championships. We have five great, experienced, veteran seniors—we have great leadership, our line-up is solid from top to bottom and we are looking to have a special season, another winning season, and an even stronger finish at the Northeast Regional Championship (our NCAA Qualifier with 17-teams) and NCAA Championships.
- "This season we are working to have multiple All-Americans and working toward a National Championship. Stay humble, work hard and smart, be healthy and this team is capable of winning at the highest level."