IMG_20160312_190616165A view of the National Finals from the stands at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids, IA

Now that the 2015-2016 college wrestling season has come to an end, let’s take a look at some of the season highlights. The 2015-16 wrestling Generals had one of the most successful seasons in recent memory.

W&L Returns to the National Tournament

Most importantly, the Generals finished the season at the National Championships. In any individual NCAA sport, the national tournament is the ultimate prize and senior Ron Tassoni became the first W&L wrestler to qualify for that national tournament since 2001, ending a 15-year drought. To qualify for Nationals, Ron finished third in the East Regional, which was also hosted by Washington & Lee in the Warner Center. Congrats to Ron Tassoni on capping off a great career with a trip to Nationals.

Record-Setting Season

The 2015-26 season also saw big changes on the record board as several important Generals records fell. Most importantly, Ron Tassoni became the winningest wrestler in W&L wrestling history. He finished his career with 97 wins, surpassing the previous mark of 82 wins, held by Ray Gross (1976-1980). Ron also became the all-time takedown record-holder with 268, passing Peter Lawrence’s mark of 232 takedowns in 2004-2008. Both of these records fell on the same day, at the Jim Crytzer Memorial Tournament hosted by W&L on Jan 9.
First year Zach Bylykbashi did not wait around before beginning to make his own records. His impressive freshman campaign put him in first place in both single season wins (34) and takedowns (96). Both of these marks are only 1 ahead of Ron, who set the single season takedown record last year with 95 and had 33 wins during his senior season.

Moving Up in the Conference and Regional Tournaments

In addition to individual success, the W&L Generals made tremendous strides in the two most important team competitions, the Centennial Conference Tournament and the NCAA East Regional. At the Centennial Championships, hosted by McDaniel, W&L’s 5th place finish (with 4 individual placers) was the best team finish since the 2006-07 season when the Generals also finished in 5th place. W&L also took 11th place (out of 18 teams) at the NCAA East Regional, the Generals’ best finish since Regional Tournaments were instituted in 2013 as the qualifiers for the national tournament.

Generals Perform well in the Classroom

Each year the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) recognizes those athletes and teams that excelled in the classroom. Three Generals were awarded Academic All-American honors in the 2015-16 season: Alex Pollera (soph), Brandon Lefore (soph), and Ron Tassoni (sr). In addition to these individual honors, the collective W&L wrestling team finished in 7th place nationally in overall team GPA with a team average of 3.30. Full ranking can be found here.

Hall of Famers Inducted

Two former Generals wrestlers were inducted into the W&L Athletic Hall of Fame in the fall of 2015, Richard Redfoot ’89 and the late Jim Crytzer ’77. These two have set the standard for W&L wrestling. Redfoot became the only General to every All-American at the National tournament when he finished in 5th place in 1988. Jim Crytzer finished his career as the all-time wins leader in W&L wrestling history (65) and was a 3x NCAA qualifier.

W&L Hosts the Inaugural Jim Crytzer Memorial Tournament and the NCAA East Regional

Although the wrestling team did a lot of traveling throughout the season, some of the most important events took place in the friendly confines of the Warner Center. W&L has hosted an annual tournament for years, but this year it was renamed the Jim Crytzer Memorial Tournament in honor of Jim’s passing away last year. The Crytzer Memorial Tournament featured a number of new teams and was the most competitive it has been in years! In addition, in February we hosted the NCAA East Regional, one of 6 regional tournaments held across the country, and the qualifying tournament for the NCAA Championships. W&L’s effort was rewarded when Ron Tassoni finished 3rd and earned himself a berth to the national tournament!IMG_20160228_171918488_HDRThe team gathers after a the conclusion of the Regional Tournament, hosted by Washington & Lee in the Warner Center