A new coaching staff brings a new philosophy to the matt this season as the Mt. Hope High wrestling team concludes training camp and begins the regular season as a member of Division One-South.
James McKenna, an All-American wrestler for Bristol High in 1993, takes over for Brian Latessa, who led the Huskies to an eighth-place finish in the state tournament a year ago. McKenna is joined by 1994 All-American Keith (Bilotti) Medeiros and their fellow ex-teammate Steve Martel.
I’ve always wanted to come back and coach,” McKenna said. “I’ve been helping out with the Somerset youth program. When I got the job I called Keith and he was excited. Steve has been running the youth program and now he’s concentrating on this.
“Really it’s a good combination when you think of it. Keith was in the lower weights, I was middle weight and Steve was in the heavier weights. You don’t coach the same style at 106 and 285. It’s a solid coaching staff.”
Though the style may vary this year’s philosophy up and down the weight classes will remain the same. And it’s not quite the same philosophy as last year.
“Every coach does things his way,” McKenna said. “I think the best defense is a good offense. The biggest change is the way we want them to wrestle is completely offensive. It’s more attack the legs, shoot, shoot, shoot. Pound on them until they give up.”
The Huskies endured two weeks of “boot camp” as McKenna called it, was surprised “not one kid quit the team,” and then put their new philosophy to the test at the Battle of the Bay Tournament held at Tabor Academy in Mattapoisett, MA.
The Huskies finished in fourth place at the event but the new coach thought they could have won it had the event taken place later in the year. Then the wrestlers would have had a better idea of how to utilize the coaching staff’s new attacking philosophy.
“Byron Thibaudeau, he was fifth at the states last year,” McKenna said. “He’s one of the kids that was unbelievable defensively. We’re trying to turn him to unbelievable offensively.
“He tried some new things at the tournament. This is the time of year to do it. I want them to get comfortable now so at the end of the year they’ll be used to doing the stuff.”
McKenna expects Thibaudeau, one of nine seniors on the team, to hold down the 182-pound position. The same goes for classmates Alan St. Vincent (126), Chris Machado (138) and Bailey Ziobro (160).
“Alan could win states this year. He has talent, talent, talent,” McKenna said. “Chris Machado is one of the hardest workers in the room. Bailey could win states this year too. He was third last year.”
Sophomores who could rack up some minutes in the starting lineup include Zackery Primiano (106), Jose Lima (120), Christian Torres (132), Nathan Pimental (145), Sean Thibaudeau (152) and Dominic Lombardo (195).
“Actually it’s a good time to come in and coach. We’ve got a strong senior class and a strong sophomore class,” McKenna said. “Jose Lima has already improved 100 percent from the beginning of the year. Christian Torres is smooth on his feet. He could win states too. Dom Lombardo is a real hard worker. He’s strong as an ox.”
Freshman Scott Primiano, Zackery’s brother, figures to have the inside track on the 113-pound position, the same as junior Jon Perroni at 170. Junior Ryan Bartell could start at 152. Senior Justin Sampson and junior Merrill Sampson will have to battle each other for the 220 slot while junior Jared Sousa and senior Will Jaycox are the team’s 285-pound wrestlers.
“The Primianos don’t say much all they do is work and work,” said McKenna. “They don’t stop. I’ll take 30 of them. Bartell and Perroni could be state placefinishers. Jared Sousa is good on his feet and has a great headlock.”
Also competing for roster spots are senior 195-pounders Chris Riley and Aaron Merritt, classmate Alyssa Gonsalves (145), junior Jeremy Spence (145) and classmates Trevor Pierce and Tony Kutter. Sophomores Josh Zasowski and Joshua Conti, both 145, classmate David Swansey (126) and freshmen Shaun Wilson (106), Daniel McDonough, Trevor King and Domenic Annotti also hope to crack the starting lineup.
Last season the Huskies compiled an 8-7-1 dual-meet record and finished in second place in their division. This season’s first poll of the year has them pegged as placing sixth in the state.
“Polls don’t mean anything,” McKenna said. “We have some talented kids. We can do some damage. They’re working hard and it’s coming along. I’m happy with the progress they’re making.”
Huskies spilt opening matches
The Huskies opened the season with a 48-35 win over Cranston West Dec. 19 on the loser’s matt.
All but one of the 14 matches were decided by pin. The Huskies found themselves down 17-6 early before Christian Torres, Chris Machado and Nathan Pimental each stuck his foe to give Mt. Hope a 24-17 edge it wouldn’t relinquish.
Other Mt. Hope winners included Scott Primiano, Bailey Ziobro, Jon Perroni, Dominic Lombardo, whose pin clinched the win, and Jared Sousa.
It was a different story the next night when Mt. Hope bowed to preseason favorite Hendricken 46-24 in Bristol.
The Hawks won the first eight matches, including six by fall, in opening an insurmountable 43-0 advantage. Mt. Hope won five of the final six matches but mathematically could not make up the difference.
Ziobro broke Hendricken’s eight-match win streak with a 5-0 decision at 160 pounds. Peronni followed with the quickest pin of the night, sticking his 170-pound foe in 19 seconds. Byron Thibaudeau came through with an 8-3 win before Lombardo took 90 seconds to stick his 195-pound opponent. Sousa ended the night with another pin to make it a 46-24 final.
The Huskies don’t have another meet during the Christmas break and will return to the matt Saturday, Jan. 5 with the freshmen and sophomores heading to the Pilgrim Future’s Tournament in Warwick and the varsity wrestlers vying in the Lawless Invitational at Nonnewaug High School in Bethlehem, CT. Both events start at 10 a.m.
The Huskies’ next regular season match will take place at Mt. Hope on Jan. 9, 2013 when they face LaSalle Academy, whose record now stands at 2-0 in Division 1 north. The Huskies will travel to South Kingstown High School on Jan. 10. Both the LaSalle and the South Kingstown meets begin at 7 p.m.
Recent Individual Results
Dec. 20, 2012 – Mt. Hope (24) vs. Bishop Hendricken (45)
Class Winner Result Opponent
106 Celico, Nicholas Fall Shaun Wilson (Mt. Hope)
113 Jason Davol Fall Scott Primiano (Mt. Hope)
120 Adam Berg Fall David Swansey (Mt. Hope)
126 Robert Lanni Fall Alan St. Vincent (Mt. Hope)
132 Nicholas DiMauro Fall Christian Torres (Mt. Hope)
138 John Arruda Decision Christopher Machado (Mt. Hope)
145 Anthony DiMauro Fall Nathan Pimental (Mt. Hope)
152 James Sauro Decision Sean Thibaudeau (Mt. Hope)
160 Bailey Ziobro (Mt. Hope) Decision Christopher Barone
170 Jon Perroni (Mt. Hope) Fall Brandon Gomez
182 Byron Thibaudeau (Mt. Hope) Decision Hunter Boesch
195 Dominic Lombardo (Mt. Hope) Fall Javier Avila
220 Dallas Sauer Decision Justin Sampson (Mt. Hope)
285 Jared Sousa (Mt. Hope) Fall Kyle Brichetto
Dec. 19, 2012 – Mt. Hope (48) vs. Cranston West (35)
Class Winner Result Opponent
106 Casey O’Connor Fall Shaun Wilson (Mt. Hope)
113 Scott Primiano (Mt Hope) Fall Tyler Gomez
120 Max O’Connell Tech Fall Jose Lima (Mt. Hope)
126 Ryan Gomez Fall David Swansey (Mt. Hope)
132 Christian Torres (Mt Hope) Fall Rhett Cooper
138 Christopher Machado (Mt Hope) Fall John Petrocelli
145 Nathan Pimental (Mt Hope) Fall Pedro Albert
152 Armand Vaziri Fall Sean Thibaudeau (Mt. Hope)
160 Bailey Ziobro (Mt Hope) Fall Vincent Mizzoni
170 Jon Perroni (Mt Hope) Fall Stefano Marziale
182 Brandon Cardinal Fall Byron Thibadeau (Mt. Hope)
195 Dominic Lombardo (Mt. Hope) Fall Matt Roy
220 Nicholas James Fall Justin Sampson (Mt. Hope)
285 Jared Sousa (Mt. Hope) Fall Anthony Caetano