CAS senior Evan Drill and Stern senior Sean Lyons are off to a strong start this season, each going undefeated and winning their respective divisions in the Roger Williams Invitational on Nov. 16, leading the Violets to a fourth-place finish.
Lyons displayed determination and perseverance in the championship round of the Invitational. Down 6-0 and on his back for almost a minute, he came back to win 8-6. Although it wasn’t the start he expected, Lyons believes this was his best performance this season.
“I made a mistake early on and had to battle back from it,” Lyons said. “It wasn’t my cleanest performance, but I won the tournament, so that might be my best.”
With a combined record of 59-10 in their junior year, the wrestling captains are entering their final season with a dream of winning a National Championship — something that only CAS alumnus Nathan Pike has achieved, back in the 2016-17 season.
As senior captains on a 38-person team that includes 16 first-years, Drill and Lyons are responsible for making sure the team is in sync both on and off the mat. Drill, instead of fearing the responsibility, has accepted the role as a leader.
“Yeah, I love [being captain],” Drill said. “I love the sport and I love my team, so I would do anything to help out.”
CAS senior Jack La Cote and junior Will Ortman are also captains of the squad, bringing veteran experience.
“We have great leadership, and we also have very hungry freshmen who are looking to break through the lineup, kids that are coming from good pedigree high school programs, and want to be All-Americans right from the start,” Assistant Coach Corey Luce said. “That’s why we recruited them.”
Among the strong first-year class, SPS first-year Conrado Lopez has seen firsthand the benefits from Drill and Lyons’ leadership.
“They win and lead by example,” Lopez said. “I like winning, not only in life, but in wrestling, so it goes hand in hand. If you win in the sport, you win in life.”
Although Drill and Lyons just won the Roger Williams Invitational and are wrapping up successful careers as wrestlers, they both see room for improvement for the rest of the season. The team has three more wrestling meets left in the fall season.
“I didn’t wrestle the best I could have in the last weekend,” Drill said. “But I’m going to keep working hard, getting stronger and faster, [working] on my technique, just [listening] to my coaches and [wrestling] hard every day.”
The two captains also lead successful academic lives. Last season, both Drill and Lyons were named to the UAA Winter Sports All-Academic Team. For the pair, time management difficulties exist, but they embrace the grind and the challenges that come with being student-athletes.
“I think it’s doable, but the better you get at organizational skills, the easier it is, so I make a lot of lists, I try to plan out school stuff weeks in advance,” Lyons said. “Sometimes it doesn’t always work out that well, since I do feel like I’m rushing around most of the time, but you take it as it comes.”
With plenty of talent and strong leadership from the senior captains, the Violets have lofty expectations for the rest of the season. The team will compete at the Citrus Invitational in Fort Lauderdale next month.
“We are looking forward to those matchups and peaking at the right time, when it comes to February, for the NCAA Division III national qualifying tournament,” Lyons said.
Barring any obstacles, Drill expects the team to make a deep playoff run in February.
“If we stay away from injuries and have a full team, I don’t see why we wouldn’t win a national title,” Drill said.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Nov. 25, 2019, print edition. Email Arvind Sriram at [email protected]