By Michael Otero
After dropping his first match at the 2015 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship, freshman Joe Calderone fought his way to two wins to advance to the second day of the tournament.
The other Pioneer qualifier was senior Chris DiIorio who came in as a regional champion in the 197-lb class. DiIorio, like Calderone was sent to wrestle-backs after a loss in his first matchup.
In Calderone’s next two sessions, he defeated Jordan Gurrola of San Francisco State 4-2 and seized the opportunity and was able to oust Aldon Isenburg after trailing 6-4. In DiIorio’s next match, he fell in a hard-fought bout that ended his season.
On the second day, Calderone was one of eight wrestlers still competing at the 133-lb class. Calderone drew red-shirt freshman Nick Crume and won a 5-3 decision and guaranteed a spot in the consolation semifinals, and at worst a sixth-place finish. In his next match, Calderone faced Dakota Bauer of Maryville who proved to be too much to handle. Bauer won the bout 9-2 while Calderone came home with the sixth-place finish.
Calderone finished the year with an overall record of 29-11. He had the most victories of any member on the Pioneers and was never pinned during the five-month season. Calderone’s performance earned him the Pioneers’ first All-American distinction in the program’s first season back in almost three decades.