Best season ever? WHS hopes so

Best season ever? WHS hopes so

Three members of the Woonsocket High wrestling team recently reached impressive milestones. Head coach Matt Morrow, center, was honored before last week’s match against West Warwick at the Novans’ gymnasium for picking up the 100th victory of his coaching career, and seniors Caleb Lambert, left, and Thomas Murphy, right, became the fourth and fifth wrestlers in the program’s history to join the 100-win club. (Breeze photos by Eric Benevides)
Woonsocket wrestling team seeks 30-0 dual-meet mark, 50-match win streak, success at state championship meet

WOONSOCKET – If this is indeed going to be the Woonsocket High wrestling team’s final winter as a Division II squad, then the Villa Novans are doing everything they can to make this season one of the most memorable ones in their program’s history.

As a matter of fact, the Villa Novans have an opportunity to make this season the best in their existence, one that could lead to another unbeaten D-II dual-meet campaign, an overall record of 30-0, and a school record-breaking performance at the RIIL Championships.

“We have a chance to do all that,” Woonsocket head coach Matt Morrow said Feb. 5, after watching his team dismantle West Warwick, 63-17, for its 12th D-II victory. “This could be our best regular-season ever, and we also have a chance to break the school record for medals at the state tournament, which is four.”

Morrow and the Novans, who posted a 17-0 record last year that marked their first unbeaten regular season in 15 years, knew they had the potential to put together another remarkable winter, especially with four battle-tested seniors – Thomas Murphy (120 pounds), Jacob Costanza (145), Caleb Lambert (160), and Hayden DePault (195) – and sophomore standouts Anthony Diaz (113) and Davin Alarie (152) leading the attack.

Murphy and Lambert recently became the fourth and fifth wrestlers in the program’s history to join the exclusive 100-win club, and Costanza, Diaz, and Lambert each won multiple matches at last year’s state championship meet to help the Novans place 13th out of 35 teams (and second out of the D-II squads) in the standings.

“We knew this season that we would be talented,” Morrow added. “We knew we had our six-headed monster, but as the season went along, our new guys were developing, and now we have a pretty strong team from top to bottom.”

Morrow also welcomed senior Kobi Alvarez (220) and sophomore heavyweight Patrick Soukhamthath back to the lineup and put sophomore Kaiden Montanez (106) atop it. And that’s not all.

Senior Jahmi Alcindor (138), who is a transfer student from New York, “has been doing a great job for us,” said Morrow, as has sophomores Tyler Uttley (126) and Saliou Jobe (132), who are both first-year wrestlers, and senior Jason Corrales (182) and junior Jamiel Colon (170).

Jobe, Alcindor, Costanza, Alarie, Lambert, and Colon delivered consecutive pins to highlight last week’s victory over the Wizards, which marked the 11th time this season that the Novans trounced an opponent by more than 30 points.

But the following night, the Novans received their toughest test of the season when they faced Burrillville (11-2) at the Broncodome. And the Villa Novans passed that test by winning six of the first nine matches and coming away with a 42-34 triumph. Diaz, Murphy, Alarie, and Depault fueled the victory with pins.

That left the Novans five victories away from securing their undefeated season. They hit the road to face East Greenwich on Wednesday, and next week, they will wrap up their schedule by taking on Johnston, Barrington, Middletown, and Narragansett.

If the Novans run the table, they will not only clinch their first 30-win season, but they will also end their winter with a 50-match win streak – Woonsocket’s last loss was a non-league defeat earlier last winter to Pentucket, Mass.

“The kids want (an undefeated season), and they want to get to 50 in a row,” said Morrow, whose team’s string of non-league victories includes wins over three D-I teams, North Kingstown, Lincoln, and Chariho. “We’re wrestling tough, but we still have to show up (to the last few matches). If we don’t show up, anybody could beat anybody.”

On the tournament scene this winter, the Cougars won the Smithfield Invitational that was held at the beginning of the month at Smithfield High, and they boast third-place finishes at the season-opening North Providence Invitational and the Pelham (N.H.) Invitational, and a fourth-place showing at the Cape Cod Invitational.

“Our third place at North Providence was our best finish ever,” added Morrow. “We had five wrestlers make it to the finals and four of them won. Before (that meet), we’ve only had two North Providence champions ever.”

Woonsocket sophomore 113-pounder Anthony Diaz, top, gets ready to turn West Warwick junior Sebastian Guzman onto his back during their match last week. Diaz pinned Guzman 44 seconds into the second round to help the Novans post a 63-17 victory.
Woonsocket sophomore 132-pounder Saliou Jobe, top, takes a peek at the referee as he gets ready to pin West Warwick sophomore Dylan Taylor. Jobe recorded his pin with 0.8 of a second left in the match.