EAST PROVIDENCE — Little is “normal” in these COVID-19 pandemic times, but things have returned kind of close for the East Providence High School wrestling team as the Townies began …
EAST PROVIDENCE — Little is “normal” in these COVID-19 pandemic times, but things have returned kind of close for the East Providence High School wrestling team as the Townies began their 2021-22 season in earnest this week upon return from the holiday recess.
Veteran EPHS head coach Tom Galligan said he has upwards of 30 wrestlers on the roster, including about a dozen freshmen.
Last season, competing from April to June rather than its common winter schedule because of the lingering effects of the pandemic, the roster barely cracked double digits.
“We’re back to just about where we were before the pandemic,” Galligan said. “But with this COVID stuff still going on, you’ve got to be cautious. It's still affected us, but we're not the only ones. Just about every program in the state is dealing with it. We all are.
“But the kids are doing well. We’re having a lot of fun. They’re a bunch of hard workers. We only have a couple of seniors, but they’re good leaders. They’re enjoying themselves, but it’s still very tough.”
Juniors Robbie Amaral (182 or 195 pounds), Jacob Francis (170/182), Jacob Poore (152/160) and Martim Moniz (120) are the top returnees along with sophomore Matthew Marlow (126). Senior Robert Arrendondo (145/152) returns to the team after not competing last season due to the pandemic.
Moniz, who won his weight class in a tournament hosted by Waterford (Conn.) during the holiday break, is one of the team captains.
“Those are the guys that I would say should do really well. They all have a chance to place at states, but we have other kids who are putting in the time every day, getting better,” said Galligan.
The rest of the wrestlers who should vie for the Townies in Division I varsity meets during the regular season include seniors Michael Foster (132) and Simon Palumbo (145); sophomores Simon Palumbo (132) and Jasper Chakouian (heavyweight); and freshmen Brady DeRoy (106 ), Machar Francis (heavyweight), Nicholas Maldonado (220), Louis Pacheco Jr. (132) and Charles Phillips (145). Phillips placed second in Waterford at his weight.
“Like I tell them, it’s all about time and effort. All we’re trying to do is get better every day and see what happens,” said Galligan.
Of his team's potential, the coach added, "My goal every year is to always get better leading up to the state tournament. That's why we practice every day. That's why we put in the time."
No other winter sport has the potential to be impacted more by COVID or any of its variants than wrestling, with its closer than close contact between competitors and the easy, almost constant, exchange of breathe and sweat.
Still, Galligan remained optimistic the 2021-22 season could be seen to its end, through February and into early March with the state and regional championships.
Of the looming threat the pandemic still poses, he continued, “If we got the season in last year, then we should get it in this year.
"The kids are used to wearing the masks now. They’ve adapted. And like everything else, I dealt with polio growing up and the Vietnam War when I was in high school. Every generation faces challenges. It’s the way you deal with them that makes you the person you become.
“I give these kids a ton of credit. It’s tough dealing with all this craziness. But they’re showing up every day. They’re in there working hard, working their tails off. I can’t ask anything more from them.”