With the race for the regular-season division title heating up, Toll Gate and Narragansett saw Thursday’s wrestling match turn into a chess match. Coaches Jerry Sabatelli and Anthony Colombo bumped their lineups around left and right, playing the match-ups and hoping things would follow the blueprint they’d sketched out.
When all was said and done, the Mariners scored bigger points in key matches to clinch a 33-28 victory. Narragansett improved to 9-1, while Toll Gate fell to 10-2.
“When I went through, I had us winning 37-36,” said Sabatelli, the Toll Gate head man. “I got the moves I wanted. The majority of guys did what they were supposed to do. A couple of things didn’t go our way and that made the difference. We did our jobs. We kept it close. The division was ours to take and we blew the opportunity.”
The Titans did bounce back strong to win the Smithfield Invitational on Saturday, but they’ll face an uphill battle in the race for the Division II-North crown. Barrington leads with a 12-1 mark. The Titans likely have to knock the Eagles off in a dual meet tonight and then hope Narragansett stumbles along the way to stay in the mix.
“We’ve got to hope Barrington beats them and maybe we beat Barrington,” Sabatelli said. “Either way, we’ve got to finish strong.”
A win Thursday would have put the Titans into the driver’s seat but it didn’t go quite as planned.
Toll Gate hoped to keep things close in the lower weight classes and did just that early on, trailing 12-0 after three. Zach Caldarone then got the Titans on the board with a major victory at 126.
At 132, Toll Gate forfeited to Narragansett standout Quinn McLaughlin and made the move look like a good one with wins in the next three spots. Alex Mowry bumped up to 138 and won 7-5 in overtime over Adam Marasco. Max Procopio then pinned at 145 and Aaron Travers took a forfeit at 152, giving Toll Gate a 19-18 lead.
Sabatelli was hoping Travers would go against Reed Nelson at 152, but Narragansett did a bump of its own, sending Nelson to 160. Facing John DiGiuseppe, Nelson took control with a second-period reversal and third-period near-fall points to grab an 8-5 victory.
“I wanted to avoid McLaughlin and bump my 32 up to their 38,” Sabatelli said. “That worked out, Procopio worked out. I was looking for Travers against Nelson. DiGiuseppe is 1-4 against him now. It always comes down to one or two points.”
Nelson’s win put Narragansett ahead 21-19, but the Titans felt confident they could get big points at 170. Senior Joe Brosnahan beat John Cook 11-7 but missed an opportunity to pin him in the first period and never again took him to his back.
“We were hoping for a pin there,” Sabatelli said.
Brosnahan’s win put the Titans ahead 22-21, but they forfeited the next match to defending state champ Mike Gallagher. At 195, Dave Navilliat pinned Kullen McGill to put the Titans back in front 28-27.
But the final two matches belonged to the Mariners.
In a battle of solid D-II contenders, Narragansett’s Alex Millen beat Ed Pierce 8-1 at 220 to put his team ahead 30-28, and Riley Chapman finished the job with a 5-0 win over Tim Warner at 285.
“We knew it was going to be close,” said Colombo, Narragansett’s head coach. “We were here Saturday with the big quad we do and we watched each other. There were a couple of scenarios – his way, my way. Luckily, it went my way.”
The Titans came back Saturday with eight medalists and the team title at the Smithfield Invitational. Now they’ll get ready for Barrington, whom they’ll wrestle as part of a home tri-meet tonight. Hope will also be in attendance. Wrestling begins at 5 p.m.
“We’ve got to give ourselves a chance to get a piece of it,” Sabatelli said. “If they crumble now, everything we’ve worked for – that schedule we’ve wrestled – it means nothing.”