After only seven matches last Friday night, the Cranston West wrestling team was in too deep of a hole to make up the difference against North Providence.
The Cougars led 33-6 at that point and finished off a 54-21 victory soon afterwards, but the score wasn’t indicative of just how close the match actually was.
The Falcons lost a one-point match and a two-point match, and also got pinned in another match that they were leading 4-1.
Because of that, what looks like a lopsided loss on the score sheet was actually a decent showing against a North Providence team that is among the best handful of groups in the state.
“I’m obviously not happy with the result, but I was happy with the effort,” West head coach Matt Claeson said. “You saw us lose a lot of close matches to a lot of kids who are supposed to place in states. We lost a lot of one and two-point matches to kids that are supposed to place top-four in states.”
West fell to 2-2 in dual meets, while North Providence improved to 4-1. The Falcons also wrestled Barrington on Monday, with the results unavailable at press time.
Friday’s match started at 145 pounds, and senior Shane O’Rourke got West off to a strong start with a pin of North Providence’s Matt Florio at the 5:50 mark.
Then the Cougars got rolling.
Kevin Mulligan pinned West’s A.J. Renzi in the first round at 152, Alec Buffi grabbed a pin at the 3:25 mark against the Falcons’ Brandon Cardinal at 160 – after Buffi held only a slim 7-6 lead – and last year’s fifth-place finisher at 171, Mac Cash, pinned Michael Cook at 1:45 in 170-pound class to put North Providence on top 18-6.
In that match, Cook held a 4-1 lead before Cash found an opening and beat him with a sudden pin.
“It’s his first year wrestling for me as a senior,” Claeson said of Cook. “(Cash) is supposed to place top-three in Rhode Island and Cook was looking very good against him. He was up 4-1 and he was looking comfortable.”
Follwing that match, the Cougars Matt Massotti kept up the pressure with a pin of West’s Eric Roy at 182.
At 195, Beau Richards battled hard for the Falcons against North Providence’s Sebastian Dziadkiewicz before ultimately falling 4-3. Anthony Zambarano then pinned West’s Brandon Caparco at 220 for a 33-6 lead.
“We had some close matches that didn’t go our way,” Claeson said. “At the same time, I know how solid North Providence is this year. I know how good they are.”
The Falcons got back on the track at heavyweight and 106 with pins by Nick James and Max O’Connell over Gerard Rodi and Yanko Diaz, respectively, but a Joe Jerez pin of West’s Rackwon Kisilywicz at 113 put the Cougars back on top 39-18.
Liam Howland’s pin of Adrian Cilento in just 16 seconds at 120 clinched the victory for North Providence.
“We’ve got a lot of needs to address in time for states,” Claeson said. “A lot of kids, they’ve got work to do in time for states.”
The Falcons finished with some strong performances, however.
At 126, Nick Larson controlled the match the whole way en route to a 13-7 win over Alex Lourenco.
Following that, in maybe the best match of the night, West’s Serge Bouyssou battled North Providence’s Mike Murphy at 132, with Murphy eventually pulling out a 3-1 win. Murphy was the third-place finisher at 119 a year ago, and was the state champion at 103 the year before that.
“That match could have went either way,” Claeson said. “Every point was huge. Those are two kids that could very well see each other in the state finals. It was nip and tuck the whole way. It’s about wrestling smart and aggressive and getting your points.”
In the final match of the night, at 138 pounds, North Providence’s Steven Machado pinned John Petrocelli at the 2:11 mark.
The Falcons were missing a few wrestlers from their regular lineup, most notably senior Guillermo Mirambeaux at 182 – who was out sick – but that did open the door for some others to get out on the mat.
And Claeson was encouraged by what he saw from just about everybody.
“One thing I loved about tonight’s meet is that everyone learned something that they need to work on to get better,” he said. “That’s what I want as a coach.”
West will be back on the mat on Thursday when it hosts Mt. Hope at 7 p.m.