By MICHAEL LETENDRE
BRISTOL – The annual battle between the Bristol Central and Bristol Eastern wrestling teams once again belonged to the Lancers.
Eastern, the defending Class L state champion, was able to take care of business early and often against Central, squaring away a 58-13 win from the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium on Thursday, Feb. 8.
The goal of the season was to prepare the Lancers for another shot at a postseason title and the bout against Central certainly helped towards that endeavor.
So, are the Lancers ready for the postseason?
“Yeah, I think so,” said Eastern coach Bryant Lishness after the meet. “I didn’t do a lot of duel meets this year so when we have them, it’s a different type of pressure that’s on the kids. They’re accountable to their teammates, accountable to the parents in the crowd a little differently than in the tournament. So I like that pressure for them.”
There was an historic aspect about the win by the completion of the meet.
Eastern ended the regular season at 15-0 overall, winning its seventh CCC South title over the past eight seasons as Eastern has won 36 straight matches – a school record that continues to accumulate.
It was the eighth straight victory for Eastern over Central in city series meets though the Rams still lead the all time series, 28-26-2.
Central (10-8), despite the score, was in just about every match and the night certainly had a postseason vibe to it.
The meet started at 152 points and Eastern’s Justin Marshall rolling up a 12-0 lead over Caleb Buden before getting the pin in 4:22 to propel the visitors to a quick 6-0 edge in the match.
Mikey Barrett (160) didn’t have an opponent, earning a forfeit win while at 170, the brawl was on between Eastern’s Dylan Levesque and Central’s Damian Mahaffy.
Levesque made a takedown with 1:43 left to lead it 4-3 but a critical reverse with under a minute showing on the clock gave the Central grappler the lead for good, winning the match by a 7-4 decision in the end.
“On paper, that was going to be a really close one and I was happy how Damien finished that match,” said Central coach Matt Boissonneault. “We talked about positioning and wrestling your style and I think Damian was able to do that. It’s really what ultimately won the match for him.”
The next two matches were forfeits as Tyler Varasconi (182) and Trinidad Gonzalez (195) won for Eastern, making it a 24-3 score in the Lancers’ favor.
At 220, Central’s Mike Guzman trailed 1-0 early in his match against Hidekel Mangual but in the third period, Guzman made a critical takedown with 1:18 left – also getting a point via a stalling violation – to eventually ring up a 4-2 win by decision.
“Guzman outworked him and that stalling call gave him some breathing room and opened it up to give him that last takedown,” said Boissonneault.
At heavyweight, Eastern’s Andrew Cercone pinned John Duncan in a minute while at 106, Bryce Beebe racked up a 10-0 major decision win over Jake Aldi but the Central wrestler came close to getting pinned – simply refusing to the yield in the end.
“I thought Jake Aldi at 106, going up against a senior, went out and attacking him and wrestled him tough,” said Boissonneault.
And then it was Eastern’s Jordon Champagne (113) turn to shine, making a quick takedown on Adam Ward, before using a cradle and getting a pin-fall win in 1:15 to give the Lancers an imposing 40-6 cushion.
“I thought he did a great job,” said Lishness of Champagne. “All business. He’s definitely been one of our leaders for the last four years and he’s a great kid, a great individual. He just went out there, got his job done getting off the mat.”
And then it was time for the bout that pitted Central’s Chris Trelli (120) and Eastern’s Tom Nichols – two excellent grapplers from the Mum city.
Nichols battled the senior, taking the best of what the experienced warrior from Central could give but still trailed 6-2 after one period.
It was 9-3 after two periods and the experienced hand won out in the end, nabbing a 13-5 major decision.
“I thought that Chris Trelli, I mean, Tom’s a freshman but he’s wrestled all over the country,” said Boissonneault. “He’s a quality kid and for Chris to get the major [decision] there [was good].”
Eastern’s Carson Sassu (126) pinned Leo Kavanaugh in 1:42 – giving the Lancers a 46-10 lead before the battle for 132 commenced.
It was a give-and-take bout that saw Eastern’s Gabe Soucy lead Mason Hale 4-1 through two periods.
But a takedown from Hale chopped the deficit to 4-3 before two late 1-point penalties on Soucy allowed the wrestler from Central to nab a 5-4 win by decision.
“I thought Mason, that’s not really the way you want to win a match on default at 132 but he kept it close,” said Boissonneault. “He fought [Soucy] the entire time so he put himself in position to win in that regard. I was pretty happy.”
Leading 46-13, the Lancers ended the night with two additional pin-fall wins.
Noah Piazza (138) pinned Joey Frechette in 58 seconds and then Diego Fernandez (145) was leading 17-7 before taking the pin-fall victory in 3:22, wrapping up Eastern’s 58-13 win.
Despite the score, the meet was certainly helpful for the Rams, getting the squad ready for the postseason.
“Like I told my guys ‘ you want to wrestle the best teams at the end of the year because you want to be wrestling your best,” said Boissonneault. “It gives you an opportunity to know where you are.”
The undefeated season and the CCC South championships are nice bonuses along the way for Eastern but this ride ends somewhere else as the ultimate destination is another Class L championship.
“It’s a credit to the kids, the parents [and] the coaches,” said Lishness of the regular season laurels. “It takes a lot of work to do that. These kids put in a lot of offseason work and the parents support us. It’s really about the states though, that’s where we want to show it. So, to be honest, this year, we haven’t thought a lot about it.”
“They’ve really been focused on trying to produce for the states.
BRISTOL EASTERN 58, BRISTOL CENTRAL 13
from the Charles C. Marsh Gymnasium, Bristol Central
152: Justin Marshall (BE) pin Caleb Buden (BC), 4:22
160: Mikey Barrette (BE) won via forfeit
170: Damian Mahaffy (BC) dec. Dylan Levesque (BE), 7-4
182: Tyler Varasconi (BE) won via forfeit
195: Trinidad Gonzalez (BE) won via forfeit
220: Mike Guzman (BC) dec. Hidekel Mangual (BE), 4-2
285: Andrew Cercone (BE) dec. John Duncan (BC), 1:00
106: Bryce Beebe (BE) major dec. Jacob Aldi (BC), 10-0
113: Jordon Champagne (BE) pin Adam Ward (BC), 1:15
120: Chris Trelli (BC) major dec. Tommy Nichols (BE), 13-5
126: Carson Sassu (BE) pin Leo Kavanaugh (BC), 1:42
132: Mason Hale (BC) dec. Gabe Soucy (BE), 5-4
138: Noah Piazza (BE) pin Joey Frechette (BC), 0:58
145: Diego Fernandez (BE) pin Andrew Mahaffy (BC), 3:22
Records: Bristol Eastern 15-0 overall; Bristol Central 10-8