WILMINGTON – With a full roster, the Wilmington High Wrestling team may very well have pulled off a great upset victory last Thursday night when they hosted Middlesex League rival Winchester at Cushing Gymnasium.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, who were forced to forfeit at four different weight classes, an upset was not to be, as they fell to their talented rivals by a score of 48-36 to drop their record on the season to 0-2.
In the matches where the Wildcats actually competed, they outscored the Sachems 30-24 (Winchester also forfeited one match), making for a very exciting night of wrestling on a night when the Wildcats honored the history of the wrestling program, raising a banner in recognition of all of the 100-win wrestlers in the history of the program.
While the final results were not what the Wildcats would have liked, first year coach Pete Mitchell could not have been prouder of his team's efforts on the night.
"I can't speak highly enough about these kids. They battled so hard and they work so hard. I am just very, very impressed with their work ethic," Mitchell said. "I am so proud to be their coach. We have a great group of kids. A loss is a loss, but I am so proud of them, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season."
Starting off in an 18-0 hole after forfeits at 106, 113 and 120 pounds, the Wildcats wasted little time in battling their way back into the meet, picking up three wins in a row, starting with a pin from senior Luke Vitale at 126 pounds in a time of 4:38. Vitale's win was followed by wins by pin from Adam Lopez at 132 and sophomore Julien Cella at 138.
Lopez's win was incredible turnaround, as he trailed 11-4 in his match before securing a pin with just six seconds left in the match.
"Adam has had three matches just like that," Mitchell said. "He has been down, but he is a third period wrestler. That is a credit to our guy's conditioning and how they really work."
Senior Brian Duggan kept up the Wildcats winning ways at 145 pounds with a pin just 37 seconds into his match to give Wilmington their first lead of the night at 24-18. Winchester came back to pick up wins at 152 and 160 pounds to take a 30-24 lead, but senior Jack Rooney came back to pick up a big win at 170 pounds, pinning his opponent in just 1:27 to even up the match at 30-30 heading into the home stretch.
Winchester, however, would take the next two matches by pin at 182 and 195 pounds to build a 42-30 lead that proved to be insurmountable for the Wildcats when they were forced to forfeit at 220 pounds to make the score 48-30.
Winchester would forfeit at 285 pounds to account for the 48-36 final.
"This is definitely something we can build on," Mitchell said. "We had a great crowd here tonight, honoring some great wrestlers who came through the Wilmington wrestling program. It was a great atmosphere for the kids and I was glad they were able to be a part of that. We have a lot of young kids, and they are hungry. They want to win. They don't like losing. I guess that's what makes it fun, is seeing all the work they have put in."