Young Woodstock wrestlers surprise in season opener
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Thu., Dec. 20, 2012
The Woodstock Academy wrestling team came within three points of upsetting the Killingly Redmen in their season opener on Dec. 14. Coach Michael Labeef was extremely proud of the entire team. “Considering that five of the 12 wrestlers we put on the mat had only a couple of weeks’ experience, we greatly surpassed my expectations. Killingly is a well-established team,” Labeef said. “Everyone went out there confident, aggressive and ready to wrestle, which is all I ask for.”
The Centaurs will be led this season by seniors Cody Maiorino (160), Jacob Bowen (120), and Devin Ciapocha (170). Sophomore Graysen DeLuca, in the 132-pound weight class, had a decent year last year and Labeef is looking forward to working with him for the next three years. “I think we can mold him into a strong athlete,” Labeef said.
While Labeef may have a young, inexperienced group of athletes, they've shown a lot of dedication. “I have a lot of kids who have no problem working hard, doing what it takes in the off-season and doing what it takes out of practice,” he said. “They know that to be a good wrestler they have to be in good shape.”
What the Centaurs lack in technique, they'll compensate for by being aggressive and in shape, according to Labeef. “We're going to grow the team,” he said.
What the second-year coach will need his wrestlers to work on is experience. Many of them have just started wrestling. It's why Labeef and his father started a youth wrestling program in the past year. “I want a feeder program,” Labeef said. “I need kids who come into the program with a clue. You get a sport like football or basketball, those kids have been playing since they were young.”
He's starting with more than 30 fourth- and fifth-grade kids who have signed up for a Woodstock/Pomfret youth wrestling team. “I'm pumped about it,” he said. “I've got a lot of kids that I really feel I can turn into a group of good wrestlers. I feel once they get older and start understanding the mechanics of wrestling, they'll be really good.”