Griswold's Wolverine wrestlers in rebuilding mode this season

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Jan. 7, 2014
Griswold sophomore Calvin Knowles (r) wrestles against St. Bernard at 152 pounds. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Griswold sophomore Calvin Knowles (r) wrestles against St. Bernard at 152 pounds. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

For a team that has been a longtime powerhouse on the local high school wrestling circuit, this year’s Griswold wrestlers are in the unfamiliar territory of a rebuilding year. Coach Dana Cooke’s squad is heavy this season on sophomores, many of whom have little or no experience.

“There were four guys out there who are varsity-caliber, experienced wrestlers, and two of them got forfeits,” said Cooke after a recent meet against Waterford. “We’ve got 13 sophomores, six of whom weren’t here last year – for one reason or another they didn’t wrestle, so that’s one year lost of high school wrestling.” Two of the experienced sophomores, Fred Levesque and Carl Edge Jr., wrestled a full varsity schedule last year.

It’s a frustrating situation for a team which regularly sent wrestlers to the state and New England tournaments in years past. Three of Cooke’s mainstays – Dylan Martel, Kyle Dombrowski and Jermaine Frazer – placed at the state tournament last year, then promptly graduated with the Class of 2013.

The overall inexperience means Cooke and his team need to focus on the basics. That includes such tangible aspects as the rules on legal and illegal moves. At the Waterford meet, for instance, one young wrestler was penalized three times for locking hands. But it also includes the more abstract elements of success in this demanding and grueling sport, such as persistence and endurance. Cooke said his new wrestlers “don’t grasp the concept totally of ‘don’t quit.’ Their energy goes away. They’re still growing – they’re still got a couple of years to catch up.”

Of Cooke’s three seniors, only two – Jake De Rosa at 182 pounds and Jim Walsh at 220 pounds – have previous wrestling experience under their belts; fellow senior and 182-pounder Nick Taverney is new to the team. Zac Cassidy, who wrestles at 132 pounds, is the squad’s sole junior.

At press time, the team’s sole win in a dual meet was against Ellis Tech. The next two weeks will see plenty of wrestling action at the Wolverine’s home gym. The squad will clash with Windham on Wednesday, Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. at home, and then on Saturday hosts the Griswold Invitational Tournament, starting at 10 a.m. Montville comes to town on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m.

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