Wrestling team excited about future despite slow startBy Jay Turner
With a record of 2-6 after two quad meets and two dual meets, the Canton High wrestling team is not where it had hoped to be at this point in the season. But things are still looking up for the young squad, which boasts two of the state’s top wrestlers along with several promising newcomers.
“Our numbers were kind of low last year, but this year we have generated a lot of interest and have a lot of good athletes on board,” said second-year coach and program alum Brian Caffelle. “In a certain sense, my goal for the team is to get our young wrestlers as much mat time as possible, as wrestling is a sport where you’re not going to have too much success overnight.”
Caffelle said the newer wrestlers are also fortunate in that they get to learn from two of the best: juniors Chris Sullivan and Quinn Merrigan, who are both 8-0 to start the season despite facing several strong opponents.
Sullivan, who last year became the first Canton wrestler to win a state title as a sophomore, boasts a career record of 71-5 and is on pace to shatter the Bulldogs’ all-time wins record. Now wrestling in the 132-pound weight class, Sullivan is facing stiffer competition this year but he continues to make it look easy.
“It’s incredible, and it’s all because of his work ethic,” marveled Caffelle. “Chris is on the mat every day. He’s just a stud athlete, and yet he’s very modest and treats every match like it’s his last.”
Merrigan, meanwhile, was a bit of an unknown coming into high school, but he burst onto the scene as a sophomore and finished as a sectional and state finalist.
“He really took our section and our league by storm,” Caffelle said of Merrigan, who has been equally impressive this year in the 138-pound class.
In addition to Sullivan and Merrigan, two other Canton wrestlers have enjoyed winning seasons thus far: sophomore Rob Dicalogero (145 lbs.), who is 5-3, and freshman Brendan Lewis (113 lbs), who is 6-2.
Other wrestlers who have impressed their coaches in the early part of the season include freshman Max Platt, who already looks like a natural on the mat; junior Matt Bagley, who earned a big win against an opponent from Mansfield; and junior Derek Haas, who has greatly improved and has had several “tough and close losses,” according to Caffelle.
The team has also gotten excellent veteran leadership from four-year wrestler Peter Sheehan (heavyweight), who is one of only two seniors on the team along with newcomer Emily Arata.
This week, the Bulldogs will head north for the Lowell Holiday Wrestling Tournament, scheduled for Thursday and Friday at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Arena. They will then host Milford on Thursday, January 3, and travel to Foxboro on January 9.
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