Preview of the Killingly wrestling team
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Killingly - posted Mon., Jan. 13, 2014
Killingly High School freshman wrestler Ben Gosselin was in the middle of a match against a Portland opponent on Jan. 4. That didn’t stop assistant coach Ron LaBeef from yelling directives to him. But with Gosselin’s energies focused on keeping his man down, and a referee just a foot from his face at times, it was hard to concentrate.
Matches can be madhouses, admitted coach Rich Bowen. “It’s tough when they’re out there. The kids are riled up. They’re focused on wrestling, and so it can get a little bit confusing, for sure,” he said.
After the match, LaBeef covered some technical points with the young wrestler. It’s a teaching tool that both coaches use. “We always go through the matches with them,” Bowen said. “Especially when it’s fresh in their minds, so they know what we were thinking. We can see more than they can. We can try to direct them and tell them what to look for. We want them to understand what we’re saying.”
The Redmen have a long, proud wrestling history. Bowen has been at the helm for 28 years. And while it's LaBeef’s first year with the Redmen, he comes with a wealth of wrestling knowledge and experience. Bowen hopes this will carry over to a young team short on experience. Out of 21 members, four are seniors and three are juniors. “It takes a couple of years to meld into solid wrestlers,” Bowen said. “There will be ups and downs. The freshman year can be tough.”
KHS seniors Chelsea Wallace, Noah Gebo and Jeff Fontaine captain the squad. Bowen expects sophomore Austin Caffrey, Wallace and Fontaine to score the most wins this year. "Those are my most experienced and productive kids from last year,” he said. “After that, the kids are still learning the sport. They might be good athletes, but they aren’t quite there yet.” A core group of sophomores are turning into the building blocks for a strong team in the future.
“Wrestling is a tough sport,” Bowen said. “It’s physically and mentally demanding. You have to work hard at it. You have to focus on the mat. You have to make sure you make your weight each time. You’re accountable. You’re out there on your own. If you don’t put in the work, you won’t do things right. Wrestling is not for everybody, but it’s a great sport. And the kids will definitely get better if they work at it.”
Killingly went undefeated in the duals and that left Bowen pleased. “It will be tough to get through year because we don’t have lot of kids with experience,” he said. "That’s the only negative at this point. Hopefully we can ban the injury bug and keep the kids healthy. Overall, I'm pleased with how we're doing.”