Ponaganset preps for postseason

Ponaganset preps for postseason

Ponaganset’s Trevor Villanova, top, gets ready to put Pilgrim’s Phil Page on his back during their 145-pound match. Villanova pinned Page to help the Chieftains post a 72-12 win. (Breeze photos by Kayla Panu)
Wrestling team pins NP, Pilgrim, improves to 7-1

GLOCESTER – With a busy February on deck, the Ponaganset High wrestling team wrapped up the January portion of its Division I dual-meet schedule with a pair of easy victories last Thursday night on the Chieftains’ home mat.

The Chieftains improved their record to 7-1 by first taking down North Providence, 61-18, and on the strength of 11 pins, defeating Pilgrim, 72-12.

“We kind of run things very differently,” Ponaganset head coach Mike Joyce said. “We really don’t concern ourselves too much with our dual-meet season. We actually try to purposely put adversity in front of the kids. A lot of teams don’t practice before their dual meets, but we do. We put a double dual in tonight, and we have another double dual on the schedule coming up. We are trying to put difficulties in front of them and circumstances that are not typical for them, but mimics a tournament.”

The Chieftains still have their eye on the grand prize – the state championship – after having won that, as well as the New England championship, last year for the first time in their program’s history. Right now, they are trying to focus on each meet to get their starters points and a good seeding for the state meet, and they certainly did that against the Cougars and Patriots last Thursday.

“The kids did a nice job,” Joyce noted. “The good thing was that some of our guys who had been struggling in some of the tougher tournaments we were in picked up some good wins tonight. I think that’s really good for their confidence going into next week.”

The Chieftains entered this week with seven dual meets remaining, including Wednesday night’s showdown at Cumberland. On Saturday at 11 a.m., they will host Cranston West and Mount Hope.

“We seem to have a big showdown with Cumberland every year,” Joyce said. “If we can pull that off and win that match, and we can stay consistent through the rest of the year, I think that we should end up somewhere near the top or at the top of the division.”

The Chieftains had an outstanding meet against Pilgrim. They started the match off at 113 pounds, where Tim Cook pinned his opponent with 40.9 seconds to go in the first round for the early 6-0 lead. Ponaganset then jumped out to a 24-0 lead after Michael Joyce delivered a first-round pin at 120, Justin Hood added a second-round pin at 126, and Theo Mihailides picked up a first-round pin at 132.

The Patriots got on the board with a pin at 138, but the Chieftains responded with pins by Trevor Villanova at 145, Lucas Christopher at 152, Colby Burlingame at 160, and Brandon Macomber at 170. Christopher and Burlingame delivered their pins less than 30 seconds into their matches.

Ponaganset also received pins from Tyler Riggs at 195, Luke Cirka at 220, and Anthony Bottella-Robshaw at 285.

“We’re pretty deep,” the head coach reported. “We have 30 kids on the team right now, so I have a lot of kids that I can utilize, but right now, we’re trying to get our starters in there and build up their power points and seedings (for the state meet). Where the kids fall in their brackets is probably going to be more important than ever, just because there are so many teams that are competing to be champions this year. There’s like five or six teams, I think.”

The head coach highlighted the matches of Christopher and Burlingame, as well as 106-pounder J’Mari Lowman, who delivered a pin in the win over NP and added a forfeit win against Pilgrim. Also recording pins against NP were Paul Dunn at 132 pounds, Cook, Joyce, Villanova, Macomber, Riggs, Cirka, and Bottella-Robshaw.

“Overall, the kids are looking really solid going into the next couple of weeks,” the head coach said. There are still big meets coming up before the postseason, but Joyce is itching for the state meet, which is scheduled for Feb. 22 and 23, at the Providence Career & Technical Academy. He said that right now there is no clear favorite to win the team title, but all the coaches around the league are pumped for it.

As for his own team, he is pleased with how the season is going so far.

“I’m really happy with the team in what’s supposed to be a rebuilding year,” he said. “I don’t think we’re rebuilding at all; I think that we’re staying near the top in terms of competing, and I’m always happy when our guys are doing the best they can and competing for a championship.”

Ponaganset’s Brandon Macomber, top, delivered one of the quickest pins of the night in his 170-pound match against Pilgrim’s Andrew Soares. The Chieftains totaled 11 pins in their lopsided victory over the Patriots.