East Providence High School wrestlers hit the mat in season opener

Austin Baptista, one of the key returnees to the EPHS squad this winter, flips his opponent from Plymouth South over during his match at 160 pounds Saturday, Dec. 8. Austin Baptista, one of the key returnees to the EPHS squad this winter, flips his opponent from Plymouth South over during his match at 160 pounds Saturday, Dec. 8.

EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School wrestling team opened up its 2012-13 season Saturday morning, Dec. 8, with non-league matches against southeastern Massachusetts sides Durfee and Plymouth South. The Townies fell to Plymouth, 43-22. They defeated Durfee, 58-21.

Austin Baptista, one of the key returnees to the EPHS squad this winter, flips his opponent from Plymouth South over during his match at 160 pounds Saturday, Dec. 8.

East Providence took to the mat with many new faces after the departure of a number of seniors from last year’s team, including two-time state champion Joao Vicente. With three freshmen and only three seniors on the starting roster Saturday, there could be no doubt that E.P. is a team high on talent, but low on experience.

“I thought we wrestled well. We got a little better. We did our take downs, stand ups. (The team) seemed to wrestle better the second match than the first match, and that’s all that we really look for,” said EPHS head coach Tom Galligan.

Against, Durfee, E.P.’s Collin Cardoso (Soph.) set a dominant tone for
the Townies early on, pinning his opponent in the first period with 17 seconds still remaining on the clock at the 106-pound weight class. However, East Providence’s bright start to events was not to last.

After a hard fought 4-2 decision victory for East Providence, courtesy of freshman Peter Leite at the 113 weight class, Plymouth South would go on to win four out of the next six matches, including a pin of freshmen Chris Perry and a tech fall of senior Demetrius Fennell at the 123 and 132 weight classes, respectively, to cut East Providence’s lead to one point (18-17).

Junior Austin Baptista  temporarily put the Townies back in control of proceedings, defeating Plymouth South’s Josh Raymond 9-0 at 160, but the visitors stormed back into the meet to claim victory, earning pins at the 170, 182, and the 220 weight classes in addition to a forfeit at 195.

At 285, two-time state champion and senior Jonah Aurelio was absent for the Townies, as he had not made weight for the event. Sophomore Corey Cinquegrana took his place and, despite a noticeable size disadvantage. Cinquegrana made his opponent sweat for his eventual 3-0 victory.

Following this defeat, in an exhibition match, Aurelio did indeed end up taking the mat for the Townies, giving them something to cheer about with a first period pin of his adversary with only 35 seconds gone off the clock.

Up next the Townies rallied to defeat Durfee after falling behind early. E.P.’s Leite was defeated in a tense match 9-8 at the 113 weight class to give Durfee a 3-0 lead, before junior Jordan Williams was pinned by Durfee’s Austin Perreira in the second period of his match at the 126.

Undaunted, the Townies recovered in the following two matches, with senior Fennel redeeming himself for his opening defeat with a thorough 18-8 victory over his opponent at the 132 weight class, before classmate Mark Weeden gave them a crucial six points and a 10-9 lead, pinning his opponent in the first period with 16 seconds left on the clock at 138. An additional pin at 145 by junior Abdul Lawal put E.P. in front for good.

Three consecutive forfeits by Durfee gifted East Providence 18 points before Durfee received a forfeit of their own, with Townies’ senior Brian Bairos coming off injured early on in his 170 match.

Despite an additional victory at 195 that allowed Durfee to narrow the score to 34-21, the Townies soon regained control of the encounter, with junior Max Arredondo earning a crucial six points with a pin at 220.

From there, it was smooth sailing for East Providence, who went on to win their remaining three matches, all of them by pins. For the day all around, Coach Galligan said he was pleased with his team’s performance.

The Townies hope to enjoy the same level of success they have had in recent seasons despite a younger roster. E.P. went 14-2 in Division I duals a year ago ahead of a fifth-place finish in the state meet, including the wins by Vicente and Aurelio as well as other top-six finishes by returnees Baptista, Williams and Fennell.

The weights for some of the E.P. wrestlers are liable to change, especially at this early point in the season. As for the potential of his squad, Coach Galligan said he doesn’t want to set any undue expectations for his team, adding “I just want them to get better from match to match.”

East Providence next visits Warwick’s Toll Gate Wednesday, Dec. 12, for another non-league game. The Townies travel to a tournament in Waterford, Conn., Saturday, Dec. 15. E.P. starts its regular season the following weekend, Dec. 22, with a match against Hendricken also in Warwick.

— By Chris Costa

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