Two Wheaton wrestlers, seniors Frank Aiello and Carlos Fuentez, competed at the NCAA DIII Championships in Cleveland, Ohio from March 9-10, 2018.
Fuentez competed in the 125-pound and came in as the No. 5 seed. In his first match, Fuentez won with a 15-3 major decision before a very dramatic second round.
It looked like Fuentez would win his second round match 6-5, but, with only three seconds left, Fuentez’s opponent was awarded a point because Fuentez pulled on his opponent’s headgear, a technical violation. Needing a win to lock All-American recognition and an advancement to the semifinal round, Fuentez took down his opponent with only two seconds remaining in the first overtime period.
Fuentez won the semifinal round in a 10-8 decision after coming back from a 6-4 deficit. With 1:19 left in the third period, Fuentez was able to take down his opponent and earn the victory. In the championship round, Fuentez faced the No. 2 seed who was the DIII runner-up at 125 pounds last year. Fuentez faced a 9-1 deficit after two periods, but, just like his previous two matches, Fuentez fought back to cut the deficit to 9-8 and ended up tying the match at 10-10 with 44 seconds left. Holding on to his opponent would have forced the match into overtime. However, Fuentez’s opponent escaped, which gave him the 11-10 lead to beat Fuentez. Fuentez finished the tournament as the NCAA DIII 125-pounds Wrestling Runner-up and with a season record of 36-3.
Fuentez became Wheaton’s highest finisher at wrestling nationals since 2001 when he finished as the runner-up, and he concluded his three-year career with an overall record of 85-30.
Meanwhile, Aiello was the No. 4 seed at 165-pounds and also won his first two matches. First he won a 7-3 decision, second a 4-3 decision which he came back to win after being down 2-0. However, Aiello lost his semifinal match in a 10-3 decision which sent him to the consolation semifinal match. He was able to pin his opponent at 1:22 into the match and advanced to the third place match. Aiello led the third place match 2-1 at the end of the first period, but he would go on to finish fourth overall after losing the match 7-5.
Aiello finished his season 14-3 overall after being injured for a large portion of the season, and his four-year career record is 100-39.
Wheaton placed 14th overall as a team out of 62 total teams in the competition.
There were six seniors, including Fuentez and Aiello, on the Wheaton wrestling team this season finished their wrestling career at the end of this season. The rest of the Thunder wrestlers return to action in the fall for the 2018-19 season.