COVENTRY — After a successful weekend where they won four of their five dual meets at Mount Anthony Union (Vt.), the Coventry wrestling team returned to state competition hoping to prove a point against the most successful dual-meet team in the state over the last five seasons.
But Cumberland, which is looking for its third straight undefeated dual-meet campaign, had another idea. The Clippers breezed through the first matches and then rode the strength of their standout wrestlers – Erik Travers and Tom Lacroix – for a 46-24 Division I-North victory.
“I think these guys aren’t very happy with the final score of the match,” Coventry coach Mike Buccaci said. “I think they’re going to be ready to wrestle Cranston West. We know Cumberland’s one of the best teams in the state – they’re always full of tough, talented wrestlers. We’re going to want to rebound nicely.”
Cumberland (14-0 Division I-North) cleared its final hurdle on the way to an undefeated showdown for the Division I-North title with Bishop Hendricken Wednesday night at the Cumberland High Wellness Center.
It will be the second straight season where the Clippers battled a fellow unbeaten for the I-North title. Last season Vets coach George Schmeider tried to bump around to beat the Clippers, but that led to a shocking Marcel Lussier victory over eventual 171-pound state champion Nick Salois.
Venerable Cumberland coach Steve Gordon doesn’t expect much lineup shifting tomorrow from Hendricken coach Kevin Hennessey, who was in attendance Tuesdat evening.
“I think we setup differently,” Gordon said of the showdown. ‘There are going to be a lot matches like tonight that will be very good. I think 126 pounds will be very crucial and 132 could be a very big match because [Hendricken freshman Anthony] DiMauro’s tough. Him and Sean [Creamer] split in Concord.
“I don’t want to outcoach myself because I think George outcoached himself and played right into our hands last year. I think I will stick with my lineup.”
That lineup served Gordon well Tuesday night against a Coventry team that has rapidly improved since the start of the campaign. Cumberland raced out to a 17-0 lead behind pins from Dylan Ross (106 pounds) and Cody Beaudette (113 pounds) and a technical fall from Kris Nordby at 120 pounds.
Coventry finally got on the scoreboard on senior night when senior 126-pounder Christian Bottella won the final home match of his career. Bottella hit a five-point move in the first period and led Nick Tribelli 11-0 after one period. Bottella picked up the win by fall at 3:13.
“I’m proud to go out with a bang,” Bottella said. “This is the last match I’ll ever wrestle in this gym – kind of depressing. I was a little pumped up before the match, but I settled down and did what I had to do.”
Bottella’s match was simply the appetizer for the two biggest matches of the evening. Creamer, Cumberland’s battled-tested 132, met Coventry’s Stryker Blue. Blue missed the first half of the season because he transferred form Hendricken, so his only way of moving up the D-I ladder is by winning head-to-head matches.
After a scoreless first period, the two traded escapes before Blue picked up a takedown with just 15 seconds left in the match to earn a 3-1 victory.
“Stryker showed that he can wrestle with some of the toughest kids in the state,” Buccaci said. “He’s behind the 8-ball with the power points, but I think he’s going to be pretty impressive at the state tournament. We expect a lot out of him.”
“I actually thought my guy wrestled better and had the best of the match, he just lost it,” Gordon said. “He didn’t finish three or four takedowns and he had a chance to score a few times.”
Coventry sophomore Dylan Dupre and Cumberland’s Jon Maccini then engaged in a battle to earn the No. 1 seed at 138 pounds. Dupre earned an early takedown, but Maccini battled back and actually led with 58 seconds to go.
But Dupre reversed back with 12 seconds left in the match to grab a one-point lead. Maccini managed an escaped and eventually picked up an 11-6 overtime win. The victory means Dupre will have to beat Exeter West-Greenwich sophomore Christian LaBrie to reach the state final.
“We knew that was going to be a tough match, but I don’t put anything past Jon Maccini,” Gordon said. “He’s not a ball of fire, but he does a good job of getting out.”
“I think that’s going to sting a little bit for him and I think it’s a great learning experience,” Buccaci said. “It should motivate him even further to wrestle tough at states. A couple of weeks from now is when it really matters.”
Cumberland then received victories from Travers, Max Carlsten and Aaron O’Toole to stretch the lead out to 35-9. Senior Zack Wilson (170) earned a 6-4 win and senior Jared Wilson (182) won by pin before Lacroix earned a technical-fall win at 195 pounds.
After Cam Williamson won by pin at 220, Coventry senior Joe Nardolillo finished proceedings with a forfeit in his final home match.
Cumberland 46, Coventry 24
106 - Dylan Bross, Cumb., pinned Tyler Pierce, Cov., , 1:03.
113 - Cody Beaudette, Cumb., pinned Murphy Brody, Cov., , 0:12.
120 - Kris Nordby, Cumb., won by major decision over Matthew Kelly, Cov., 16-1.
126 - Christian Bottella, Cov., pinned Nick Tribelli, Cumb., , 3:13.
132 - Stryker Blue, Cov., def. Sean Creamer, Cumb., 3-1.
138 - Jon Maccini, Cumb., def. Dylan Dupre, Cov., 11-6.
145 - Erik Travers, Cumb., pinned Blake Pierce, Cov., , 0:53.
152 - Max Carlsten, Cumb., def. Greg Fusco, Cov., 17-2.
160 - Aaron O'Toole, Cumb., def. Skylar Torborg, Cov., 12-2.
170 - Zack Wilson, Cov., def. Christopher Hayes, Cumb., 6-4.
182 - Jared Wilson, Cov., pinned William Spaziano, Cumb., 1:22.
195 - Tom Lacroix, Cumb., def. Mike Piacente, Cov., 17-0.
220 - Cam Williamson, Cumb., pinned Aaron Pennacchia, Cov., , 2:31.
285 - Joe Nardolillo, Cov., won by forfeit