Wesleyan Wrestlers Frank Crippen, Zach Larabee, and D.J. Lemieux bring home Gold and Silver from NEWA Future’s Tournament
The Wesleyan Wrestlers who are not in the starting lineup this year, but will be next year, traveled to Roger Williams University on Sunday to compete in the NEWA Future’s Tournament. Frank Crippen and D.J. Lemieux dominated the 133 pound weight class to finish 1st and 2nd respectively while Zach Larabee put in a spectacular performance en route to a 2nd place finish at 149 pounds.
Zach Larabee’s stellar day began with two quick falls over opponent’s who could not handle Larabee’s funkiness. In his first match, Larabee opened the match by letting his opponent take him down and put a leg in. Although this is a bad position for most wrestlers to be in, Larabee found this position to his liking. Larabee sat to his hip and back bridged against his opponent’s chest so hard that his opponent went to his own back with Larabee’s head and arched body pressuring down on top of his opponent’s chest. Larabee looked for the defensive pin from this position, but settled for a reversal and nearfall to end the 1st period. However, his opponent did not learn his lesson and in the 2nd period, Larabee was able to get the defensive pin off of the same sequence of events. In his second match, Larabee adjusted his tactics slightly by letting his opponent put in two legs instead of just one leg after giving up the takedown. For most wrestlers, this is a very bad position to be in, but for Larabee it is a very good one because it allowed Larabee to again arch his back into his opponent’s chest and get the defensive pin. With his pin, Larabee advanced to the semifinals where he employed more standard tactics to get the win. With the match scoreless in the 2nd period, Larabee rode tough on top and built up riding time before allowing his opponent to escape. When his opponent, who had been warned for stalling earlier in the match, called for injury time at the start of the 3rd period, Larabee was awarded a point to tie the match 1-1. Larabee escaped in the middle of the 3rd period to take the lead 2-1 and held on for the victory. In the finals, Larabee most likely had a defensive pin, but none was called, and Larabee lost the match to finish in 2nd place.
At 133 pounds, Frank Crippen started the day off with a great 9-4 win over a formidable opponent. After giving up an early takedown, Crippen threw off the cobwebs and got an early escape. On his feet, Crippen seized his opponent’s arm and fired off a near-arm far leg attack to get a takedown of his own. Crippen extended his lead with an escape in the 2nd period and another near-arm far leg takedown at the beginning of the 3rd period. After letting his opponent escape, Crippen aggressively pursued his opponent in search for another takedown. His opponent shied away, unable to handle the pressure, and Crippen capitalized on his opponent’s weakness with another near-arm far leg attack. Upon reaching the far leg, a scramble ensued, but the crafty Crippen was able to come out on top and get the takedown to win 9-4. In the semifinals, Crippen controlled his opponent for a 2-0 win off of an escape and a riding time point. With that win, Crippen advanced to the finals where he defeated teammate D.J. Lemieux.
D.J. Lemieux’s day started off with a semifinals win over an opponent who could not handle Lemieux’s funkiness. Lemieux’s opponent, who had lost by technical fall to Lemieux earlier in the year, was pumped for the match and earned a quick takedown off the whistle. However, Lemieux, who was also pumped-up for the match, was unfazed and as soon as he found himself on bottom, sat out and reversed his opponent to go on top. Lemieux wrestled tough on top, throwing in legs as he pleased, and rode his opponent out for the remainder of the 1st period. After giving up 2 takedowns in the 2nd period, Lemieux found himself in a 9-6 hole heading into the 3rd period. On his feet at the start of the 3rd period, Lemieux anticipated a shot from his opponent and when it occurred, Lemieux somehow funked out of it to get the takedown and subsequently scored off a crucifix to take the lead 10-9. His opponent answered back with a reversal at the end of the 3rd period to take the lead 11-10, but Lemieux had over a minute of riding time at the end of regulation and the match went into overtime. At the beginning of overtime, Lemieux, like a shark smelling blood, sensed his opponent’s fatigue and snapped him into a front headlock to get a takedown and the 13-11 win. With the win, Lemieux advanced to the finals where he faced teammate Frank Crippen.
At the end of the day, Zach Larabee, leader of Wesleyan Wrestling’s NEWA Future’s Squad, commented both about his own performance as well as that of teammates Frank Crippen and D.J. Lemieux: “I felt I could have wrestled better. I wasn’t necessarily hitting my best shots on my feet, but I did well on bottom. I am content with the way the weekend went though. D.J. Lemieux and Frank Crippen did a great job representing us at the lightweights and made sure that it was a cardinal bringing home the gold [at 133 pounds].”
Asked about his uncanny ability to get defensive pins, Larabee replied, “Even though I’ve had success with it, it always feels pretty crazy to get a defensive pin and it’s definitely a surprise every time. It’s usually just a maneuver to get a reversal, but it feels good to know that it is something I can use it to stick a guy even when he thinks he is in control on top.”
Wesleyan Wrestling’s starting lineup will seek to win the NCAA Northeast Regionals this Saturday and Sunday here at Wesleyan University. Two years ago, Wesleyan Wrestling hosted the NEWA Conference Championships at home and brought home a conference title. Wesleyan Wrestling looks to repeat that success this weekend.