New wrestlers, new attitudes

With 11 underclassmen on the roster, team has revamped atmosphere in locker room and is poised for big season


Ron Tassoni, ‘16, is only a few wins away from being W&L’s all-time winningest wrestler. Photo courtesy of W&L Sports Info.

Kenta Sayama

Although the last several seasons ended with unpleasant results, Washington and Lee’s wrestlers are ready to buck the trend this season through their motivation and dedication.

According to team captain Ron Tassoni, ’16, the team has struggled to retain a number of players over the past several years, especially after the coaching change last year. As a result, the motivation of the team was not at its highest and many players left the team. There are no juniors on the team right now.

“Wrestling is an ungrateful sport at W&L,” Brandon Lefore, ’18, said. “As a wrestler you have to put tons of efforts, but there are not a lot of people coming to the game as not many people are interested in it. It is tough to just keep up with it especially on top of academics and other extracurricular activities.”

The problem is not only the low popularity. The five month long season is one of the longest at W&L and cutting weight gives wrestlers constant pressure, according to Tassoni and Lefore.

However, the players are realizing a change in the atmosphere of the team.

“This year, every single wrestler in practice is really eager to get better and they are working really hard, which is different from what I had in my freshman and sophomore year,” Tassoni said. “They are all dedicated to putting a lot of effort into wrestling which is not easy and is always a great thing.”

Lefore also claimed that the three first-years are helping to boost the morale of the team.

“Although there are not a lot [of freshman players], they are all quality kids and they all have high motives to reach a high level and be successful even in their first year,” Lefore said.

The college wrestling season consists of a mixture of dual-meets and tournaments. In tournaments, individual wrestlers compete for themselves while dual-meets are more team oriented.

The team opened up its home schedule on Nov. 11 by sweeping nearby Southern Virginia University 52-0 in the Doremus gymnasium. Zach Bylykbashi, ’19, started the match with a win and the rest of the team followed suit, not allowing SVU to record a point on the scoreboard. The Generals improved their dual-meet record to 2-3 on the year.

“Everybody on the team went out on the mat and wrestled tough. We all knew what we needed to accomplish and did just that. Everyone seems to be prepared to go into the season at this point. I’m very excited to see us all continue to grow and improve on our wrestling,” Lefore said after his win.

Following the victory over SVU, Tassoni is now only 15 wins away from setting the W&L record for most career wins. However, Tassoni seem to not care of the record so much.

“Breaking records is actually sort of a second thing for me because I have other goals that I want to focus on,” he said.