Wrestling’s DeReese and Messina DominateDeReese places 9th at NCAAs, Messina 4th at Metro Champs
Contributing Writer Junior Musa DeResse and senior Sean Messina are driven by the pressure to be the best and their desire to win. Both men are key players in the Hawks wrestling team, which finished the 2011-12 season with 10-8 record, and both are always looking to better themselves and their teammates.
DeReese stresses that he and his teammates need to be fully engaged and aggressive for the seven minutes on the mat. “Wrestle the whole match, all three periods, and don’t give up,” he said.
Messina believes the Hawks need to score better defensively. “If we finished our shots, we could easily run our opponents over,” he added.
On Feb. 17, in the last match of the season for the Hawks, both Messina and DeReese secured victories against the visiting Delaware Valley Aggies. Though the Hawks lost, the pair accounted for two of the Hawk’s three winning bouts, with the third coming from freshman Luke Pragdat.
Prior to the start of the meet, as it was Senior Night, the graduating seniors of Hunter’s wrestling team were recognized for their hard work and dedication and their accomplishments in the classroom, in chosen careers, and on the mat. Messina, Ryan Baxter, Chris Gross, and Oliver Lopez were commended to the roar of an enthused audience.
Once the action started, an impressive third-period pin by Sean Messina delivered the first team points of the night for the Hawks. Messina’s win was a highlight of the night. Competing in the 141-pound weight class, he dominated his opponent from the start, scoring an early takedown and holding Delaware Valley’s James DeLillo on his back at the edge of the mat before the official made and out-of-bounds call.
It was in the second period, however, that his technical skills shone. He was able to block the low single shots of DeLillo and use shot attempts to get behind his opponent for the takedown and another two points. Messina held DeLillo in a cradle towards the end of the period but time expired before the official called a fall.
After another takedown, this time within the first ten seconds of the third period, Messina threw legs in to exert control and blocked his opponent’s hips while he locked in an armbar and turned DeLillo for a pin with 1:45 left in the third period and over three minutes of riding time.
Unfortunately, the Hawks were unable to convert Messina’s win into momentum and the Aggies won the next three bouts.
Junior Musa DeReese stopped the slide by winning an 8-2 decision over his Delaware Valley opponent in the 197-pound weight class. He did this in an incredible fashion, with a beautiful low single take- down thirty seconds into the first period to set the tone for the match. He exhibited great control while riding legs to secure the many takedowns he successfully executed and to dominate on top.
DeRees’s dominance continued a week later at the Metropolitan Conference Championships on Feb. 26. He placed third place in the 197-pound weight class, the best finish of any Hawk, and good enough to qualify for the Division III NCAA Championships. He travelled to La Crosse, Wisconsin on the weekend of March 6 to compete in the NCAAs, where he finished in ninth place for his weight class, just one point shy of being named an All-American.
Back at the Metro Champs, Messina wrestled to a strong fourth place finish in his 141-pound weight class.
While both wrestled and placed well against top competition, their approach to facing highly ranked opponents differs greatly. Going into the Metro Champs, DeReese was very aware of his potential to be an NCAA qualifier and, the ranks of the opponents he would have to defeat to get there.
Messina is less aware of such things, and is dismissive of the topic. “I don’t care about rankings,” he said. “My dad worries about that stuff.” In fact, earlier in the season, he didn’t even realize he was wrestling top-seeded Chris Albright of York College until the match had begun. It is because of this mindset, and a win over Albright, that many considered him a potential wildcard to qualify for the NCAAs.
Now, with the season over, DeReese plans to search for media internships and job opportunities. He will continue to wrestle with the NYC StreeTeam, a club team made up of Hunter wrestlers. He will be back with the Hawks next year for his final season.
Messina will celebrate the end of his wrestling career by devoting more time to his band, Skybridge, writing and enjoying skiing trips with his girlfriend.
While Messina and DeReese will take very different paths at the end of this wrestling season, both believe in the potential of the Hawks as individual wrestlers and as a team. Messina listed a number of potential studs for the program, including juniors Alan Djokic, Chris Gogatz.
DeReese cited a great recruiting class, including himself, sophomore Leon Bodden and sophomore Ryan Gerondel as the foundation for future success as a team. Though four seniors will leave the team this year, the majority of the starters will be returning. Messina predicts that there will be no holes in next year’s lineup even though he will not be a part of it.
As the team looks forward to next season, a certain mantra that has become popular in the locker room continues to hold true. In the words of The Roots, “You don’t say good luck, you say don’t give up.”