Bulldog wrestlers pay tribute to former coach

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CHS wrestling captains Justin Dickie and Nick Matt, School Committee Chairman Mike Loughran, Principal Derek Folan, head coach Brian Caffelle, coach Tom Bartosek, coach Tye Seastedt, EM Duggan CEO Vin Petroni, and AD Danny Erickson (Jill Carter photo)

L-R: CHS wrestling captains Justin Dickie and Nick Matt, School Committee Chairman Mike Loughran, Principal Derek Folan, head coach Brian Caffelle, coach Tom Bartosek, coach Tye Seastedt, EM Duggan CEO Vin Petroni, and AD Danny Erickson (Jill Carter photo)

Although they came up just a few points short in the end, the Canton High varsity wrestling team still gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about in last Wednesday’s 39-33 loss to Oliver Ames.

On a night in which they welcomed back legendary ex-coach and program founder Tom Bartosek for a pre-meet ceremony to dedicate the team’s new mat in his honor, the Bulldogs delivered some strong performances and showed why they are again a legitimate contender to take the Hockomock Davenport Division crown.

Led by sophomore phenom Eddie Marinilli and a mix of returning and new varsity talent, the Bulldogs overcame a slow start against a tough Tigers squad and made it a match with a string of impressive victories, including three straight pins by Joe Pacitti (152 lbs.), Jordan Neundorf (160 lbs.), and Cole Murphy (170 lbs.).

“We dug ourselves a pretty big hole early on in the meet as some of our better wrestlers came up short,” acknowledged head coach Brian Caffelle. “But we had some great matches down the stretch where guys were fighting their tail off, and while we were definitely capable of winning the meet, you’d rather have that loss earlier in the season where our guys can learn from it and improve.”

Marinilli, last year’s sectional and state finalist, also scored a win against his OA opponent in his new weight class at 138 pounds, while junior Harry Carter picked up a win at 120 pounds and senior Nick Matt won via forfeit at 285 pounds. Also wrestling tough were seniors Max Gallagher and Cole Lee.

Regarding the pre-meet ceremony honoring Coach Bartosek — a recent inductee into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame — Caffelle said it was an “extremely special” moment and the perfect way to honor the longtime former CHS coach and teacher who has meant so much to the Canton wrestling program.

Sophomore Eddie Marinilli (Mike Barucci photo)

Sophomore Eddie Marinilli (Mike Barucci photo)

“I was a student of his and a wrestler of his; I coached under him and we remain good friends,” said Caffelle, who took over at the start of the 2010-11 season. “It was an amazing privilege and an honor to be a part of that tribute. We don’t have wrestling here without Tom. Everything I do in my life I credit to being a wrestler and to the values he taught me — loyalty and determination and commitment, having a strong work ethic, and being mentally tough. I was extremely fortunate to be part of that and to honor a man who helped me be the man I am today.”

Dozens of former CHS wrestlers turned out for the ceremony, which marked the official dedication of the Tom Bartosek Wrestling Mat, paid for by a generous donation from Canton-based EM Duggan.

In other recent CHS wrestling action, the Bulldogs grappled their way to a perfect 3-0 weekend at the Burlington quad meet with victories over Xaverian 42-34, Burlington 48-27, and Norwood 56-18. Polan Makarov dominated his matches at 220 pounds and won all three by pinfall, while Marinilli picked up two wins and gave a good fight to Burlington’s Josh Lee, the defending All-State champion.

One week later, Marinilli looked like an unstoppable force as he wrestled his way to the 138-pound title at the Marlboro Early Bird Tournament. He went 4-0 on the day with three pins and a win in the finals by tech fall (17-2), helping propel the Bulldogs to a fifth-place finish in the 16-team tourney. Other top performers included Mark Carstairs and Matt, who both took third in their respective weight classes; Carter and Justin Dickie, who both placed fourth; and Makarov and Lee, who both placed fifth.

Following an away meet Monday against Mansfield, the Bulldogs will have some time to rest up and get in some practices before heading north to Lowell for the annual George Bossi Holiday Tournament December 28 and 29.

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