It wasn’t the end of the world and they bounced back the next night, but the Bishop Hendricken wrestling team still felt pretty disappointed as it left Cumberland last Wednesday night.
The Hawks visited the Clippers for a battle of unbeatens that shaped up to be the dual meet of the year. While it lived up to the hype, the Hawks didn’t live up to their own high expectations, losing a few key matches and dropping the meet to Cumberland 32-31.
The Hawks rebounded to beat Cranston West on Thursday, but Wednesday’s loss may sting for a while.
“Not much went our way tonight,” Hendricken head coach Kevin Hennessey said Wednesday. “Some of the guys did their jobs. Some of the guys didn’t. We lost – no excuses. We didn’t perform well. Hopefully we learn from it.”
Cumberland came into Wednesday riding a 52-match win streak that stretched back to the 2008-09 season. Hendricken, unbeaten at 13-0, figured to give the Clippers their biggest challenge of the year.
But it didn’t play out the way the Hawks needed it to.
Cumberland prevailed in a pair of one-point matches, picked up key points from two major victories and got pins from their stars en route to the one-point win.
“Things just went our way,” said Cumberland head coach Steve Gordon. “We won the close matches, and that was the key. Our kids never gave up, even when we went down early. They wrestled hard, they wrestled tough and they didn’t quit. I’m proud of them. I couldn’t be any more proud.”
Hendricken won three of the first four matches, with Jason Davol pinning Dylan Bross at 106, Nick DiMauro winning 8-0 over Kyle Durkin at 120 and freshman Lewis Stewart scoring a key 11-6 win over Kris Nordby at 126.
The Clippers got four points from a major victory by Cody Beaudette over Nick Celico at 113, but still trailed 13-4.
After the first four matches, though, it was almost all Cumberland.
The match at 132 was thought to be a key one going in, with Hendricken freshman Anthony DiMauro taking on Cumberland senior Sean Creamer. DiMauro trailed 2-1 after the first period. He started down in the second but couldn’t escape, and Creamer instead picked up three near-fall points to go up 5-1. Starting neutral in the third period, DiMauro got a takedown but then was called for an illegal hold and couldn’t pick up any more points as Creamer won 6-3.
At 138, Cumberland won another close one. Jonathan Maccini notched a first-period takedown of Nick Parente and never trailed the rest of the way, holding on for a 7-3 victory and getting his team within three at 13-10.
With momentum building, Cumberland star Erik Travers then worked the capacity crowd into a frenzy with a second-period pin of Dan Cofone at 145. That gave the Clippers a lead, and they would never relinquish it.
At 152, Cumberland’s Max Carlsten built a 5-0 lead over Chris Barone in the second period, then got a takedown early in the third to make it 7-0. From there, Barone was whistled for stalling three times, which made it 11-0 and secured a major victory for Carlsten. Cumberland led 20-13.
In the next match, the Hawks were frustrated again. Hendricken’s Dylan Bessette came close to pinning Aaron O’Toole in the first period, but settled for a 5-1 lead after one. The match started turning in the second period, though, with O’Toole getting an escape point and a takedown to make it 5-4. In the third, Bessette was whistled twice for stalling, which gave O’Toole the 6-5 lead with 44 seconds left. Bessette couldn’t get a clean shot from there, and O’Toole held on for a one-point win.
The matches at 152 and 160 epitomized the Hawks’ frustrations.
“I was embarrassed to see our guys get hit with stalling, which means they’re not working hard,” Hennessey said. “That’s not our thing – we work hard. I don’t know if it was nerves or what. I’m not making any excuses.”
Trailing by 10, the Hawks stayed within striking distance thanks to a third-period pin by Mike Gelardi at 170. Cumberland’s Kyle Szumita had wrestled Gelardi tough and trailed 6-4 after two, but Gelardi got a reversal that led to a pin with 29 seconds left. That made the score 23-19.
With a chance to get the lead back, Hendricken’s Hunter Boesch took the mat at 182 against Chris Hayes, who had been bumped up from 170. Boesch fell behind 5-0 in the first, but got an escape and a takedown to make it 5-3. He then tied the match when Hayes was penalized for an illegal move and for locking hands in the second period.
Early in the third, Boesch was called for an illegal move. He then elected to go neutral on the restart, which put Hayes back in front by two. Boesch appeared on the verge of a takedown after that, but Hayes got it instead. Trailing 9-6, Boesch got a reversal with 20 seconds left to get within one, but he couldn’t score again. Hayes held on for the 9-8 win.
With three matches left, Cumberland led 26-19. The Hawks knew they’d likely be getting six points from a Cumberland forfeit at 285, and they hoped they could get six from a pin at 220. That would give them 31 points, but they would have to avoid a pin at 195 to keep Cumberland from getting to 32 points.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, that second part hinged on Cumberland star Tom LaCroix, the top-ranked 195-pounder in the state. Hendricken’s Alex Knight fought LaCroix off for a period but couldn’t hold him off forever. LaCroix pinned him with 1:18 left in the second period to give Cumberland a 13-point lead and put the match out of reach.
The Hawks got a pin from Billy Stewart at 220 and the forfeit at 285, but those points weren’t enough.
“We lost to Cumberland,” Hennessey said. “They’re a great team. Great coach, great support staff, great everything. Good for them that they won. For us, I’m disappointed.”
The Hawks returned to the mat Thursday with a 57-19 victory over Cranston West. Cofone, Parente, Bessette, Gelardi, Boesch, Stewart, Dallas Sauer and William DiGiuseppe all won by pin to lead the Hawks.
That bounce-back performance was a good sign as the Hawks gear up to finish strong.
“Bottom line is we’ll see what kind of character these kids have when they get back out there,” Hennessey said after the Cumberland match. “I’m a believer that they’re going to bounce back. This might have been what they needed to motivate themselves a little bit more.”
The Hawks will close out the regular season when they host a tri-meet against North Providence and La Salle on Thursday at 5 p.m. The state tournament begins Feb. 24.