PAWTUCKET – Tolman High’s Dion Rubio, a star football player who developed into a championship-calibre wrestler over the past four winters, enjoys the mat sport.
“It’s really different than football,” Rubio, who finished fifth in the state at 160 pounds last winter, said on Thursday night after sending the Tigers to a 42-39 victory over Woonsocket with a pin in the final minute of the final match of the night.
“In wrestling, you are out there all by yourself,” Rubio, a co-captain, said with a smile. “But you are responsible some nights for the success of your entire team. This victory tonight was for all the seniors on our team.”
Rubio took the mat with Tolman trailing, 39-36. He was favored to defeat Woonsocket’s Mathew Soukhanthath, but the Villa Novan came out and wrestled hard, escaping twice and trailing just 5-2 after two periods.
Rubio got a takedown with 94 seconds left in the match for a 7-2 lead, still not enough to give Tolman the victory. Tolman needed either an major victory (eight points or more) by Rubio or a pin to win. Rubio had to turn his man and that’s what he did, slipping in a figure four leg ride around Soukhanthath’s waist and then working on his upper body, turning his opponent and squaring his shoulder blades to the mat for a pin with 25 seconds left.
Tolman’s victory would not have come without some fine work by the Stubbs brothers, Daniel and Darion. With the meet starting at 170 pounds, Woonsocket had an early 9-0 lead before forfeiting at 195.
Daniel Stubbs then scored a 54-second pin of Josh Tracy to put Tolman ahead.
Woonsocket’s Levi Walker, a pretty solid heavyweight, flattened Kevin Furtado in 38 seconds to put the Villa Novans back ahead in the team scoring, 15-12.
“There was plenty of excitement out there tonight,” Woonsocket coach Glenn Castiglia would admit after the meet ended. “It wasn’t
quite like last night (when Cumberland bested Hendricken in a Division I showdown) but this meet was very exciting.”Tolman won the next two matches by forfeit to take a 24-15 lead.
The teams traded pins at 120 (Darien Briggs winning for Woonsocket) and 126 (where Tolman’s Codee Bizier came up big).
Woonsocket won the next three matches by pins to take a 39-30 lead with two bouts remaining. Josh Hidalgo decked Darius Harrison 14 seconds into the third period, Mark Roman pinned Emmanuel Belance late in the second stanza, and then Muhamed (Spiderman) Gueye threw everything but the kitchen sink at Bryan Arroyo, winning by fall at 4:39.
Tolman still had Rubio, its best wrestler, left, along with Darion Stubbs, another senior and co-captain who had been honored by coach Dave Vecchiarino before the meet as part of a Senior Night ceremony.
Darion Stubbs went out and scored a quick takedown before pinning Tyler Hidalgo and setting the stage for Rubio’s exciting finish to the meet.
Tolman is now 4-11 in Division II action with one match left while Woonsocket finished its dual-meet schedule at 7-9.
“I was a little surprised by Tolman,” Castiglia said. “They had been missing some wrestlers earlier in the season but they’re a pretty good team right now. They battled. They earned this win.
“For my team,” Castiglia added, “this has been a recurring story. We have to field a full team to win matches. We can’t be forfeiting three matches. It’s hard to win when you spot the other team 18 points.”
Woonsocket and Tolman both are pointing towards the Division II championship meet. That meet serves as a qualifier for the state meet scheduled for Feb. 24-25 at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.
Rubio hopes to finish his wrestling career on a high note at the state meet.
“I want to win a state title and bring it home to Tolman High,” the articulate senior said with a smile.