EAST PROVIDENCE — Rare is the year the East Providence High School wrestling program doesn’t produce a competitive side, and the 2013-14 season should be no exception.
Fueled by quite competent youth and middle school programs, the Townies traditionally boast one of the better sides in the Division I ranks. Add in the stability and dedication head coach Tom Galligan and trusted assistant Glen Salgueiro bring, and East Providence wrestlers are among the best prepared athletes in the sport.
Galligan begins his 22nd winter at the helm of the Townies. Salgueiro has been his aide for the last 20 of those seasons. A year ago, East Providence finished seventh in the state championship meet. The Townies lost a state champ (heavyweight Jonah Aurelio) and a top six finisher (Mark Weeden) to graduation while another top performer (state runner-up Colin Cardosa) transferred. This winter, the E.P. outfit is a combination of proven returning varsity competitors along with promising underclassmen and incoming freshmen.
“I like some of stuff these guys have been doing. I like it a lot,” said Coach Galligan, whose squad has opened the ’13-14 season with a 2-2 record in its Division I-North matches. “This team reminds me of when we had (former state champ) Joao (Vicente) and Jake Burrows and Alex Abbatecola coming in. We’ve got a lot of good, young guys mixed in with some good leadership at the top.”
To date, East Providence’s lineup has been as follows: freshman Devantae Rogers at 106 pounds; freshman Christian Hussey at 113; freshman David Sheldon at 120; sophomore co-captain Peter Liete at 126; senior Isaiah Serena at 132; senior Jordan Williams at 138; freshman Donnie Senna at 145; freshman Tyler Chagnon at 152; sophomore co-captain Mario Peoples at 160; senior co-captain Austin Baptista at 170; freshman Jared Batista at 182; sophomore James Nicoll at 195; sophomore Tyler Benedetti at 220; and junior Corey Cinquegrana at heavyweight/285. Baptista is the lone returnee to place at states last winter, finishing fifth in the 160-pound division.
The rest of the varsity roster includes freshmen Eric Bianco and Nathan Vincent; sophomores Mackenzie Farnsworth, Christian Pari, Dante Parrilla and Kaleb Santiago; juniors Mark Bianco, Tyler Johnson, Chad Travassos and Isiah Tavares; and senior Abdual-Basit Lawal. Tavares, concussed in a car accident just prior to the start of the season, is expected to enter the East Providence lineup in the lighter weights once healthy in the coming weeks, according to the coach.
“The kids are wrestling really well so far. They’re wrestling the way we’re teaching them. They”re working hard in the room (at practice). A few guys are going to drop down in weight. We’ll adjust the lineup down once Isiah comes backs,” Coach Galligan added. “Other than that, the lineup is pretty set. The young kids have been good so far, but it’s a big adjustment going from 11 matches in middle school to 40 in high school. We’ve got good captains in Austin, Peter and Mario. All we’re looking for is that they just keep improving, that they wrestle even better than they’re capable of wrestling.”
In East Providence’s four matches to open this year, the Townies have been on the winning end and receiving end of decisive decisions. However, those results, especially the losses, mean little to Coach Galligan.
“I tell the kids, scores don’t matter. It’s how you wrestle. At the end of the year, no one is going to remember what you did in December. It’s how you do in that meet in February that matters,” he continued, referring to the state championships held in recent years in the middle of February at the Providence Career & Tech Academy Field House.
“We don’t train to beat guys we know we can beat. We train to beat the guys we’re not supposed to beat. That’s why we’ve had a lot of the success we’ve had in the past at states. Guys beat other guys they’ve lost to during the year,” Coach Galligan added. “We just keep doing what we always do, which is work hard, keep improving, keep them healthy and then see what happens at the end of the year.”