Wrestling team seeks higher finish

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Dec. 13, 2012
Co-captain Ryan Potterton (right) practices with a teammate on Monday, Dec. 10. Photo by Christian Mysliwiec.
Co-captain Ryan Potterton (right) practices with a teammate on Monday, Dec. 10. Photo by Christian Mysliwiec.

The Manchester High School wrestling team finished a respectable season at 12-4 last year. They placed third in their league behind South Windsor and Glastonbury. “We've traditionally finished third in the past several years behind those teams,” said head coach Louis LaGuardia.

This year, his goal is to turn up the pressure on those two powerhouses and improve his team's standing in the league. There are 22 wrestlers on the team, LaGuardia said, including a core with a “high level” of varsity experience. “We have a good returning group,” LaGuardia said. “We have seven returning, experienced guys out of 14 weight classes.”

Filling all of those 14 weight classes, however, is a problem every wrestling coach has to face. “It is hard to field a team. There's 14 spots that you have to fill with kids who meet that weight class,” said LaGuardia. “In football, you just need 11 guys – it doesn't matter how big or small they are.” In a match, if the team does not provide a wrestler in a certain weight class, they have to forfeit. “Ideally, you want all spots filled so you don't give up free points during a match,” he said.

At the beginning of the season, wrestlers go through a state-required weight certification process, where weight, body fat ratio, and hydration level is tested. Their weight class is assigned based on that assessment. After, maintaining that weight is crucial to remaining in the class, and wrestlers have to resist unhealthy food during the season.

Inevitably, a team will have some classes vacant, and have multiple wrestlers certified for the same class. The athletes wrestle to determine who gets the spot. While the classes are not yet finalized, LaGuardia is optimistic about filling as many of the 14 classes as he can.

This year, the senior captains are Ryan Jurewicz at 113 pounds, Ryan Potterton at 138 pounds, and Brian Donavan at 182 pounds. LaGuardia expects a strong contribution from senior Chris Simmons, who wrestles at 285 pounds. Simmons, who hopes to go to Yale, also played football for MHS.

LaGuardia also points out strong competitor senior James Hicks, who attended Greater Hartford Classical Magnet School for three years and is finishing high school at MHS. “He wrestled very well [at Classical Magnet]. He's going to be one of our best wrestlers,” said LaGuardia.

He expects major contributions from a group of sophomores and juniors, as well.

Many of the wrestlers trained during the off-season, and the team is practicing and doing strength training regularly. “We're working hard,” said LaGuardia. “They're putting in their work.”

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