By ALEX SPONSELLER The Warwick Vets and Winman wrestling teams had a strong outing at the RIPCOA Middle School State Championships, as the Hurricanes took home a third-place finish and two Warriors claimed individual titles. Winman's Brent Angilini
The Warwick Vets and Winman wrestling teams had a strong outing at the RIPCOA Middle School State Championships, as the Hurricanes took home a third-place finish and two Warriors claimed individual titles.
Winman’s Brent Angilini placed first at 70 pounds, while teammate Jamie Luna took first at 133 pounds. Vets’ Seth McGrew placed second at 82 pounds while teammate Justyn Murphy took second at 126, as well as Donovan Watts at 133.
Marques Moniz made it to the semifinals at 94 pounds for the Hurricanes while teammate Tyler Holman made the semis at 119 pounds. Winman’s Evan Kaya advanced to the semis at 275 pounds.
“We had a black cloud over our heads heading into the day with three of our starters either hurt or injured, so for us to go in there and get third place is awesome. Our goal this year was to finish top-3 and we did it,” said Vets coach Kurt Keaney. “It says a lot about our team. Fighting for each other, understanding that we were short handed and needed to wrestle even better … they certainly did that.”
“I thought that we achieved more than we had planned for. I thought they worked their butts off this season, trying to build up the program. We expected (to improve on last season) but they definitely delivered on that performance,” said Winman coach Nick Salois.
The Warriors finished 13th as a unit and were led by their two state champions. Salois was proud of their performance and hopes that the younger grapplers will take notice moving forward.
“(Angilini and Luna) have been winning consistently throughout the year. Those guys, something clicked. They had good matchups and were able to expose their opponents and hit on their weaknesses. It’s awesome, it’s a building block for next year. It’s great to be able to show these kids what can happen in just two years and that you can win at any level as long as you put the time and effort in,” said Salois, who has enjoyed watching the Winman program make strides during his first two years as coach. “They’re very confident and we preach team. The guys are buying into what the coaches are doing which is huge at the middle school level. They’re competing and having fun at the same time.”
Keaney was also proud of his club for overcoming adversity and finishing in the top-3.
“The wrestling season is a grind, it’s a tough sport. It’s hours of endless practice, blood, sweat and tears to get to that point. They knew that and attacked that and didn’t have any nerves,” said Keaney, who also hopes his returners will learn from another strong showing at states.
“We are losing quite a bit, but we have wrestlers in the room waiting in the wings. It’s that next man up mentality, hopefully we have some sixth and seventh graders step up and be ready to be varsity wrestlers,” said Keaney.
Keaney is also excited to see the sport continue to grow throughout the city and to see the cross town Warriors build for the future.
“Youth wrestling has been big in Warwick, especially with PAL being that feeder program and the middle schools preparing these kids for high school. We have built a good system here,” said Keaney. “Bringing in Nick Saloise (to Winman), a guy that is knowledgeable, passionate, energetic, it has paid huge dividends for them. It was awesome for them. If it’s not us winning then I hope it’s them and that’s what it is all about.”