Record participation for Windham wrestling
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Windham - posted Mon., Jan. 21, 2013
This year, declining enrollment at Windham High School places the Whippets wrestling team in Class S for the first year. But ironically, the team is experiencing a record number of participants this year in the program. As of the Jan. 19 Eagle Classic at East Catholic High School, the Whippets’ roster was at 35 wrestlers. Head coach Pat Risley said there's always a bit of attrition after the start of the season. "Wrestling is a tough sport. We work them hard," he said. But this year there has been increased interest as well as a high level of commitment. "To have that this late in January is something," said Risley. "That's the most I've had in the 15 years that I've been with the program."
Windham had a total of seven seniors participating at East Catholic. "We have a mix of some really experienced athletes and some not so experienced," said Risley. With a total of three freshmen in the lineup as well as several sophomores, "We have a balance between inexperience and experience," he said.
Five of the seniors fall within the 170-285 weight range. "We're pretty tough in that range," said Risley. Senior Mike Ruffino wrestles at the lower end of the weight spectrum, at 113 pounds. "He's one of our tougher wrestlers," said Risley.
Xavier Kernozek, a senior who wrestles at 195 pounds, said that his team is made up of dedicated athletes. "We do work very hard," he said. "Lucky for us we do have a lot of good coaches and previous wrestlers who come into the program."
The Silverback Wrestling Club provides a strong foundation for Windham wrestlers who wish to take advantage. "Several of our seniors wrestled in that program," said Risley. There is a lot of off-season dedication among the Whippets, as well. "We're lucky that we have kids dedicated to working hard throughout the year," said Risley. "It's tough to build a program in just three months." And wrestlers are dedicated to supporting each other. “Our motto is ‘La Familia,’” said Risley. “You'll see the bigger kids working with the littler kids. I can't ask for anything more.”
Regarding the season, the Whippets will be striving for the Class S championship and hope to make a strong showing at the state opens and the New England competition. Risley and Kernozek both said the team could realistically strive to finish among the top three in the state.
The Windham team took first place in the Eagle Classic competition. The team's first-place finishers were: Sebby Ruffino (106 pounds), Mike Ruffino (113 pounds), Devyn Petsa (170 pounds), Spencer Hill (182 pounds) and Nick Poulin (220 pounds). Also placing were: George Sfakios (second, 120 pounds), Dakota Fleming (tie for third at 145 pounds), Alex Perez (third, 152 pounds), Xavier Kernozek (second, 195 pounds) and Wolfgang Fiasconaro (second, 285 pounds).