Norwich Tech joins with St. Bernard for dual-school wrestling team
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Norwich - posted Mon., Jan. 7, 2013
After struggling for several seasons with a depleted wrestling squad that gave up most of its matches due to forfeits, the St. Bernard Saints have an infusion of new life thanks to Norwich Technical High School. The two schools have formed a joint team this season, in an arrangement similar to their dual-school football squad.
“Last year we had four wrestlers and we knew we were going to lose [every meet]. That’s the battle I was fighting last year,” said head coach Jonathan Torres. Now, with a full roster, the team kicked off the season with its first win in years, a resounding 59-24 victory at home against East Lyme. The victory was “exciting for myself and for the kids also,” Torres said. At press time, the team had a 2-5 record.
Up to now, each year a handful of Norwich Tech students worked with SBS coaches and competed at the school’s meets, but did so as one-man teams. “They had no affiliation with us at all except for coaching,” said Torres. Points scored by Norwich Tech wrestlers didn’t count toward the team’s total score.
Wheeler High School was initially included in the arrangement, and although a few Wheeler hopefuls came to the initial practices, they didn’t stick around long. “The sport isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to want to do it,” said Torres.
Experienced wrestlers from SBS form the Saints’ core: team captain Victor Calle, a senior, along with juniors John Gannon and Casimir Woznica. SBS newbies include sophomore Mario Liu and freshman Matthew Dowler, whose dad, Tom, is assistant coach.
The team’s sole female wrestler, senior Geraldine Taranto of Norwich Tech, has two years’ experience under her belt and is back on the mat at 138 pounds. The squad’s other Norwich Tech wrestlers are juniors Danny Fields (126), Carl Feder-Craney (132), and Luke Wenzloff (170); sophomores Tom Morrow and Aaron Pelletier (152); and freshmen Robert Newton and Justin Keating.
With the exceptions of Taranto and Keating, who has some youth wrestling experience, the squad is heavy with newcomers to the sport. As a result, Torres’ squad is working hard on technique. “These kids are young. Technique is huge in wrestling, it’s key to success in wrestling. I try to keep these kids focused as much as I can,” he said.
But, he added, “Some things I can’t teach, like heart and hard work. They have to find it in themselves, and I try to get it out of them.”