By Kevin Carroll — SPORTS EDITOR
The Hofstra wrestling team opened up the 2017-18 season in roaring fashion, easily dispatching Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) opponent Franklin & Marshall University 30-6 on Sunday afternoon at the Mack Physical Education Center.
“I thought that we outwrestled them; I thought we deserved to win,” said Hofstra head coach Dennis Papadatos after the match.
Sunday’s win also marked the first EIWA action in over a year for redshirt senior Michael Hughes, who sat out of conference competition last season.
After a win from Hofstra’s Nezar Haddad put the Pride out in front 3-0, Hughes took the mat to square off against Antonio Pelusi. In just under two minutes, Hughes picked up a pinfall victory to run Hofstra’s lead to 9-0 over the Diplomats.
“It’s nice to have Mike Hughes back,” Papadatos said. “That kid [Pelusi] is good, and Mike pinned him in a minute.”
While Hughes picked up the only fall for the Pride on Sunday, the team was able to open up such an insurmountable lead with the help of five straight wins in the five final bouts of the afternoon, including three major decision victories.
Ricky Stamm picked up the first of these major decisions at the 167-pound weight class, defeating F&M’s Emmett LiCastri 13-3.
Sage Heller would follow that performance with a 16-2 major decision win of his own over Dylan Gumaer at the 165-pound class, Heller’s first time wrestling at 165 pounds.
A win by Bobby Fehr would come next, before Cory Damiana would win a 15-5 major decision in the final bout of the day to bring the final score to 30-6 in favor of the Pride.
Also earning victories for the Pride were Vinny Vespa and Ryan Burkert at the 133- and 149-pound classes, respectively. In total, the Pride won eight of the 10 bouts on Sunday, in a terrific display to open up the season.
“We beat them [Franklin & Marshall] 22-21 last year … nothing against them, but I thought we could shut them out [this year],” Papadatos said.
Hofstra will be back in action this weekend in the Journeymen-Northeast Duals at Hudson Valley Community College.