Wolverine wrestling team heavy on freshmen
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Fri., Dec. 28, 2012
Griswold High School wrestling coach Dana Cooke is counting on youthful enthusiasm to fill in the sizeable gap left by the departure of some of the best wrestlers in the school’s history. “We started [practice] with 10 or 12 freshmen and ended up picking up seven freshmen. That’s almost half my team,” said Cooke. “Last year we ended up with one freshman – he’s my sophomore this year.” With just two juniors on the squad, Cooke aims to give his rookies a chance to prove their mettle and his half-dozen seniors a chance to mentor the newcomers.
While the Wolverines fielded a depleted squad for just seven matches against St. Bernard during a Christmas week away meet, Cooke said that was an anomaly. Both teams suffered forfeits due to players who were away for family events, he said. Most other nights this season, “If I’m not mistaken we can fill any weight class but 195 pounds,” he said. “For us now, we’re just trying to fill the weight classes and do conditioning.” Endurance will be a key element, he said. “We want to be able to hang with kids from other teams and wear them out,” he said.
Conspicuously missing from the GHS lineup this year, thanks to last spring’s commencement, are three standouts from Cooke’s winning 2011-12 squad: Brandon Walsh, who went undefeated for nearly two straight years, garnering ECC, state and New England titles along the way; Class S champion Aaron Wing; and Dustin Falco, who also spent some time on the ECC and state podiums in his career.
But fellow standout Dylan Martel is still on the squad, wrestling at 126 pounds this year. Martel is a two-time state champion who was also named Academic All-American for the past two years. He’s joined as captain by Kyle Dombrowski, also a senior, who placed at the ECC tournament last year and is wrestling this year at 145 to 152 pounds. “He’s a four-year wrestler, he knows the routine,” Cooke said of Dombrowski.
The team’s sole sophomore, Zac Cassidy, shows promise this season, having been just one match away from placing in Class S last year, said Cooke. Cassidy wrestles this year at 138, taking up Brandon Walsh’s old weight class. Fred Levesque, a 113-pound freshman, also has great potential. “Every match he’s lost so far has been by 10-9. There’s something about that score,” Cooke said. Levesque’s losses are due to “freshman mistakes,” said the coach, but the high score and narrow margin prove he has mettle. “He’ll get there,” he said.
At press time the team had a 2-1 record for the regular season, losing to last year’s state champion Ledyard but defeating Lyman and St. Bernard.