Centaurs wrestle with inexperience

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Jan. 6, 2014
Edwin Ruiz (120) took on East Windsor's Patrick Southerland. Photos by D. Coffey.
Edwin Ruiz (120) took on East Windsor's Patrick Southerland. Photos by D. Coffey.

The Woodstock Academy wrestling team faced four different teams at the Killingly Winter Duals on Jan. 4. The Centaurs beat Rocky Hill, but had their share of trouble against Portland, Ellis Tech and East Windsor. Still, coach Michael LaBeef was happy with the full day’s worth of wrestling experience it gave his young team. 

Experience is something the team needs. Woodstock has fewer than 20 wrestlers on the team, and only six are seniors and juniors. “From 132 down, they are all brand new freshmen,” LaBeef said.

“It usually takes at least two years of wrestling to really understand what you’re trying to do while you’re out there,” LaBeef said. “We’ll take a licking along the way. But I told them if they stick to it for a couple of years, they’ll turn out okay.”

LaBeef doesn’t care about whether his charges win or not, as long as they are wrestling properly. “I like to make sure the kids have their basics down. If I tell them I want to see one move, I want to see them hit the move properly.” He understands that time is a necessary ingredient for success.

A month and a half into the season, LaBeef is seeing the fruits of their labors. On Saturday, several wrestlers were starting to get their feet underneath them. “They are starting to understand what they have to do to win,” he said. He and assistant coach Kyle Muenzner take whatever occasion they can to get their points across. During a break in one match, LaBeef demonstrated a move on Muenzner for Cody Lajoie. The matches can be madhouses, he admits.

Captains Nicholas Listro (138) and Graysen DeLuca (145) both recorded pins. “They’re good leaders, good kids and the best wrestlers I have on the team. They did as expected of them today,” LaBeef said.

Freshman Ethan Hellwig (106) recorded his second pin of the season. “He’s getting a taste of victory,” LaBeef said. “He pulled out a crazy win out of nowhere. He put a kid on his back and didn’t quit. It was good to see him get that under his belt. If you keep driving hard and keep working for something, you’ll get it.”

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