E.O. Smith wrestling has slow start, building momentum
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Storrs - posted Wed., Jan. 11, 2012
According to E.O. Smith assistant coaches Nate Nadeau and Ryan Madl, the wrestling team took a while to get going this year. “We started out real slow,” said Nadeau.
“It’s a rebuilding year,” added Madl.
The team drew in a large number of new members this year, boys with a lot of athletic ability but little to no experience with wrestling. “All we had to do was teach them the basics and build them up mentally,” said Nadeau.
Unlike schools like Hand and Windham High School, fed by communities with very strong youth wrestling programs, E.O. Smith feeder towns offer few opportunities for young wrestlers. “It’s very rare that we have a wrestler come in with any prior experience,” said Nadeau.
“We pretty much start from scratch and go from there,” added Madl.
The Panthers have a number of wrestlers on the roster who should make strong contributions to the team, including football player Dallas Beltran. “We expect him to do pretty good this year,” said Madl. Sophomore Ke’Ontae Samuel is one of those team members who came in with no wrestling experience but a ton of natural athletic ability. “He came in two weeks after the season started,” said Nadeau. “He’s probably one of our most improved wrestlers.”
Regarding their unusual ringside attire, Madl and Nadeau say that comes from head coach Griff Jones. All three coaches wear black suits with red ties (red and black being E.O. Smith’s colors),with cowboy-influenced accents (hats, boots). “Nobody else does it,” explained Nadeau. “You’re in a room full of high school kids wearing wrestling gear, you’re gonna stand out. It makes it easier for the wrestlers to spot us.”
E.O. Smith is currently ranked first in the CCC East. Their next home meet is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 25, against Bristol Central, beginning at 4 p.m.