Facing one of the most difficult schedules in recent memory, Franklin & Marshall's wrestling team battled a number of the nation's top teams throughout the 2015-16 season. The tough competition brought out the best in the Diplomats and prepared F&M for a postseason run that produced three Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association (EIWA) place winners and two NCAA Qualifiers.
To watch a highlight video of the 2015-16 season, click here.
Rick Durso '16 became the only two-time EIWA Champion in program history with his 4-0 performance at the conference championships in March. Entering action as the 141-pound bracket's No. 1 seed, Durso rolled through the competition and wrapped up his second career title with a 7-4 decision over the No. 2-seeded Todd Preston of Harvard in the final.
Antonio Pelusi '18 won four out of five consolation matchups, including upset victories over the bracket's No.'s 4, 5 and 8 wrestlers at 285 to secure fifth place, while Scott Stevens took eighth at 133. The trio of Diplomats guided F&M to a 12th-place finish out of 16 teams with 36.5 points, finishing ahead of Hofstra, Sacred Heart, and Brown. Pelusi's performance was the best for a heavyweight at the Championships since Bob Bickelman took third in 1976 and the three place winners were the most for the Diplomats since 2012.
Both Durso and Pelusi snagged automatic bids into the NCAA Tournament that took place in historic Madison Square Garden, marking the first time since 1994 that F&M had multiple student-athletes represented. Pelusi reached the tournament for the first time. He was dealt a difficult draw and bowed out after two matches, including an opening round loss to eventual National Champion Kyle Snyder of Ohio State.
Durso became the first four-time NCAA Qualifier in program history. He went 2-2 at the tournament and finished in the top-16 for the third time, bringing an end to his illustrious career. The redshirt senior captain wrapped up the season with a 39-10 record, which tied his season wins record and gave him a program-best 145-38 mark for his career.
He was also honored for his work in the classroom, becoming one of only 26 grapplers in the EIWA to receive the conference's Academic Achievement Award. The honor is reserved for student-athletes who achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher and win 60 percent of their total schedule and/or be an EIWA Place winner, or achieve a 3.0 GPA or higher and qualify for the NCAA Championships through the EIWA.
Following Durso's 38 wins, Pelusi registered a 26-21 overall mark, good for the 17th-most single-season victories of all-time, while Anthony Mancini '18 was solid with a 17-17 record as an 184-pounder.