By Jamie Belfer || Sports Editor
The F&M Wrestling team is off to a great start in the 2019-2020 season. With dedicated upper class leaders and talented first years, the Diplomats are prepared to take down their competitors. Senior captain Emmett LiCastri knows that the success of this Diplomat season will depend on “avoiding injuries, continuing good training, and being able to bounce back [from losses] throughout the season.”
After months of training, the Diplomats participated in their first competition of the season in the Bearcat Open at Binghamton University on November 10. The Diplomats faced many different competitors from over ten different schools including Cornell, Lehigh, and Bucknell. LiCastri lead the Diplomats with a third place victory in the 165 lb. weight class by going 5-1. As a second year captain, LiCastri understands his role on the team as one who leads by example by “living right on and off the mat,” in addition to one who is a “spoken leader” by being a voice that builds the confidence of his teammates. He owes much of his leadership skills to his coaches who have been great leaders to him over the past three years.
The weekend following the Bearcat Open, the Diplomats traveled down to Lexington, Virginia to compete in their first dual meets of the season against Virginia Military Institute (11:00am) and Davidson College (1:00pm).
After losing the first 125 lb. matchup to VMI, F&M quickly rebounded with Nick Tewell’s 9-1 major decision and Wil Gil’s 4-1 decision. These two victories put the Diplomat team up 7-6 against VMI. After a subsequent 6-4 loss in the 149 lb. match, the Diplomats once again bounced back with two deciding victories of 8-1 by Noah Chan and Emmett LiCastri.
The match became much closer after two Diplomat losses putting the Keydets up 17-13. With only two matches left, the 197 lb. and heavyweight classes, the Diplomats needed two victories to earn their first team victory. First-year Ethan Seeley stepped up to secure a big victory, earning three points for his team to put the Diplomats within one point of the Keydets. With a score of 17-16, the Diplomat’s fate rested in the hands of sophomore heavyweight Cenzo Pelusi. A close 9-5 match brought the F&M team’s its first victory of the season, with a final score of 19-17.
The Diplomats had continued success in their second match of the day. F&M’s Jack Bruce rebounded from his individual loss against VMI by winning a close 5-4 match against Davidson, giving the Diplomats a 3-0 lead. Tewell and Kulp fell to their opponents, but Wil Gil’s impressive 29 second victory against his opponent tied the score up at 9 points apiece. With their second back-to-back wins of the day, Noah Chan and Emmett LiCastri put the Diplomats up 15-9. The Wildcats inched closer with a win in the 174 lb weight class, but Geoff Magin kept the Diplomats ahead with his first win of the day with a major decision. After Davidson won a major decision in the second-to-last match of the day, the score was 19-16, the Diplomats being ahead by three. The fate of the meet once again came down to Cenzo Pelusi in the final match. With a major decision or pin, Davidson could tie or go ahead. However, a determined Pelusi fought to earn a 9-5 victory, once again securing the victory for the Diplomats.
The Diplomats will look to keep improving match after match and continue to push one another to be the best in order to send as many of their teammates to the NCAA tournament as possible at the end of the season.
Sophomore Jamie Belfer is the Sports Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.