The Generals train hard, compete well, and make an impact on the community over winter break.
Most college students spend winter break catching up with high school friends, relaxing at home, and decompressing from a semester of studying. On the other hand, the Washington & Lee wrestling team didn’t get the luxury to relax over break. Instead, they spent most of the vacation period training and competing. Washington & Lee hosted two competitions over winter break, the W&L Duals on December 21st and the Jim Crytzer Memorial Tournament on January 9th.
Right after completing their exams, instead of heading home, the W&L wrestlers had to prepare for the arrival of five teams to the Warner Center. W&L would wrestle three of those teams, falling to Ohio Northern University 31-16 and Lycoming College (PA) 33-14, but defeating Muskingum University (OH) 29-11. These matches brought their 1st semester record to 6-5, W&L’s best start to the season in recent memory.
On January 2nd at 5:00 pm the entire W&L wrestling team assembled in the wrestling room to begin what would become a grueling week of training. With two practices just about every day, the team was not only preparing for the Jim Cryzter Memorial Tournament (Jan 9th), but was also setting the stage for the second half of the season, which includes the most important competitions: the conference duals, the conference tournament, and NCAA regional and national tournaments.
The workout schedule included a morning mat practice and an afternoon weight-lifting or conditioning session. Sometimes a bit of fun came along with the hard work, such a team water-polo match and full-court 3v3 basketball game.
Finally, the Generals also made time to volunteer at the Rockbridge County SPCA and spent an afternoon walking dogs that are waiting to be adopted. Another Generals connection to the SPCA to note- assistant wrestling coach Alex Radsky recently adopted a dog from the Rockbridge SPCA.
The Jim Crytzer Memorial Invitational
Washington and Lee has hosted a tournament in January for years, but in honor of recent W&L Hall of Fame inductee and wrestler Jim Crytzer, who passed away in 2015, the tournament was renamed the Jim Crytzer Memorial Tournament. Coincidently, this tournament saw the addition of a few new teams who contributed to it being the most competitive tournament ever.
In spite of the tough competition, four generals placed, and the team finished in 6th place out of 12 teams. Ron Tassoni (184, Sr.) continued his excellent year by winning the tournament and improving his season record to 21-1. Zach Bylykbashi (133, Fr.) also made it to the championship finals, but fell to VMI’s Dom Gallo. Zach’s impressive freshman campaign continues and his record now stands at 24-4. Alex Pollera (Soph., 141) had a breakout tournament, placing 3rd and improved his season record to 12-8. Finally, Ethan Hartman (Fr. 125) put together the best day of wrestling of his young college career, winning 3 matches and earning a 5th place finish.
Not only did Ron Tassoni put together an impressive tournament and win his 2nd tournament title this season, he also made Washington and Lee history. Ron’s four victories on the day brought his career total to 85, making him the winningest wrestler in the history of the Washington and Lee Wrestling program. He passed Ray Gross (1976-1980) who had held the record with 82 career wins. Tassoni now hopes to continue his winning ways and reach the century mark in wins before his career ends. In addition, Ron tallied 14 takedowns on the day, bringing his career total to 234 and surpassing Peter Lawrence’s (2004-2008) record of 232 career takedowns. Ron Tassoni now holds the W&L single season wins record, the career wins record, the single season takedown record, and the career takedown record.
Coming up for the Washington & Lee Generals are a series of Saturday double duals, with 2 conferences matches each Saturday for the next four weeks. On January 23rd Gettysburg and Johns Hopkins will come to Lexington and face the Generals in historic Doremus Gymnasium.
The Centennial Conference Tournament on February 6 kicks off the postseason. Then, on February 27-28, 18 teams will converge on Washington & Lee’s Warner Center for the NCAA East Regional. The top three placers at each weight class at the East Regional will qualify for the NCAA Championships, on March 11-12 in Cedar Rapids, IA.