LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall's wrestling team is set for its annual Blue/White intra-squad scrimmage on Saturday before officially opening the 2017-18 season with a road dual on Sunday, Nov. 5 against EIWA-opponent Hofstra.
The Diplomats are talented throughout their dual meet lineup, welcoming back a number of key members who were redshirted last year, including 2016 NCAA Qualifier Antonio Pelusi (285 pounds). F&M's freshman class is a scrappy, mentally-tough group with several first-year student-athletes who are expected to challenge for spots in the lineup.
Eighth-year head coach Mike Rogers and the Diplomats' coaching staff expects the combination of experienced returners and capable underclassman to equate to the program sending wrestlers to compete at the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years.
Wrestlers to Watch
Antonio Pelusi | R-Jr. | 285 Pounds
Emmett LiCastri | So. | 157 Pounds
Dan Martoccio | R.-Jr. | 133 Pounds
Philip Robilotto | R.-Sr. | 197 Pounds
Cole Aaron | R.-Fr. | 149 Pounds
Brett Kulp | R.-Fr. | 133/141 Pounds
Pelusi returns to the mat after taking a redshirt last season. The 2016 NCAA Qualifier registered a 26-21 record in 2015-16 and secured fifth at the EIWA Championships – the best finish for an F&M heavyweight since Bob Bickelman took third in 1976.
LiCastri's successful first-year campaign produced a 16-16 record, including an impressive 10-8 mark against EIWA opponents, while Martoccio tied for fifth on the program's season pins leader list with nine a year ago. Robilotto had four top-five tournament performances and a first-place showing at the Messiah Open on Feb. 4.
Aaron and Kulp both redshirted last year after missing significant time at the beginning of the season due to injury. However, both displayed promise at tournaments during the second half of the season and are expected to fight for spots in the dual lineup. Steven Mercadante also returns from a redshirt year and is looking to crack the dual lineup at 184 pounds.
F&M is set to host its annual Blue/White intra-squad dual scrimmage this Saturday afternoon at the Mayser Center. The event begins at 2:00 p.m. and is being streamed in HD at GoDiplomats.com/Live. To follow live results, click here.
Below is the likely order of events for Saturday. Participants and matchups are subject to change.
Projected Blue/White Matchups
125 - Edgar Garcia vs. Mike Simonetti
133 - Dan Martoccio vs. Wil Gil
141 - Brett Kulp vs. Chris Martorello
149 - Cole Aaron vs. Sam Butler
157 - Emmett LiCastri vs. Jason Strange
165 - Dylan Gumaer vs. Jacob Conners
174 - Jimmy Stillerman vs. Josh Young
184 - Reid Robilotto vs. Steven Mercadante
197 - Jack Argast vs. Philip Robilotto
285 - Corey Kerkesner vs. Antonio Pelusi
A Look at Hofstra
F&M travels to EIWA-foe Hofstra on Sunday, Nov. 5 for the Diplomats' first dual competition of the season. The Pride finished 14th at last seasons EIWA Championships after producing one place winner when 133-pounder Vinny Vespa secured fifth.
The 285-pound matchup figures to be the most-anticipated contest of the afternoon with Hofstra's Michael Hughes, who is ranked as high as No. 8 in two of five NCAA Division I Preseason Polls, taking on F&M stalwart Antonio Pelusi.
The Road Ahead
The Diplomats are currently set to compete in 15 dual meets to go along with several tournaments as the Diplomats prepare for the Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) Championships, which are hosted by Hofstra on March 3-4.
Four of those dual matches will occur on Dec. 29-30 at the South Beach Duals in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. against Binghamton, North Dakota St., Michigan St. and Rider. Nine of F&M's duals are against EIWA opponents, concluding on Feb. 17 at home against Sacred Heart.
The fifth annual David H. Lehman F&M Open is set for Saturday, Jan. 6 at the ASFC, while the NCAA Championships are taking place in Cleveland, Ohio on March 15-17.
Below is a look at the wrestlers expected to redshirt this season, which only allows them to compete in tournaments and makes them ineligible for dual meets, as well as postseason competition:
Anthony Mancini – 184 Pounds
Mancini ranked as high as No. 23 in last year's RPI rankings but just narrowly missed out on an at-large bid for the NCAA Championships. The Diplomats' 184-pounder led the team with a 23-14 record and picked up a 5-4 win over Lehigh's Kyle Gentile, who was ranked No. 30 in the country, at the EIWA Tournament.
Paddy Quinlan – 141 Pounds
Quinlan produced the second-most wins on the team last year with a 22-18 overall record. The 141-pounder also etched his name in the program's record book, tying for fifth on the season pins leader's list with nine.
Follow Along (Social Media)
All of your favorite Diplomat athletic teams are available on social media. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, like them on Facebook and subscribe to the Diplomats YouTube page for frequent highlight videos of games throughout the season. All home wrestling matches at the Mayser Center will be broadcast live in HD at GoDiplomats.com/Live.