BRISTOL - When the Bristol Central (10-7) and Bristol Eastern (14-0) wrestling teams take to the mat on Wednesday - weather permitting - to face each other, it’ll be a meet with the feeling of David vs. Goliath.
The Lancers are ranked No. 2 in the state and the Rams have struggled with injuries and execution throughout the season.
Bristol Eastern has won every meet between the two since 2010.
“I really think there’s an argument to make that they’re the best dual team in the state, so we know that, from a team standpoint, we’ll have our hands full,” Bristol Central head coach Matthew Boissonneault said.
When the two meet up, however, anything can happen.
“The Bristol Central and Eastern meet is always good,” Bryant Lishness said. “There’s a lot of pride on the line. Most of these kids grew up wrestling together. Records are thrown out the window in this one.”
Both teams bring plenty of talent to the mat.
For the Lancers, senior Mike Barrett (160 pounds) headlines the team as one of the most dominant wrestlers in the state.
On the other side, senior Chris Trelli leads the Rams, as also one of the top wrestlers in the state.
Some new faces will be making their debuts in the rivalry.
Jake Aldi is a strong freshman for Bristol Central, wrestling at 106 pounds.
Tom Nichols (120 pounds) and Mason Lishness (98) are two impressive young wrestlers for Bristol Eastern. Nichols is 32-8 this season.
Four matchups to watch are: 106 pounds - Bryce Beebe (Bristol Eastern) vs. Aldi; 120 pounds - Nichols vs. Trelli; 170 pounds - Damian Mahaffy vs. Dylan Levesque; and 220 pounds - Mike Guzman vs. Hidekal Mangual.
Beebe and Trelli, both seniors, are facing off against freshmen in matches of experienced talent against inexperienced young talent.
Those two matches, 106 and 120, should be exciting to watch.
Lishness recalls a time when Bristol Central was the No. 2-ranked team in the state coming in and Eastern was 16-10, a similar situation to this year.
It came down to the last match to determine a winner, a tribute to how competitive the annual city meet truly is.
The Rams winning would be considered an upset, and Lishness wants to make sure his guys are ready to continue the Bristol Eastern streak.
“I just want my kids to go into it and not let their emotions get the best of them,” Lishness said on the emotions of the meet. “If they do that, I think we’ll be just fine.”
Bristol Central is looking to fix some of the issues it’s had this season.
“What we’re trying to focus on for Wednesday, and what we’ve struggled with a little throughout the season, is execution,” Boissonneault said. “We really want to try to take what we’re working on in the wrestling room and transfer that to a complete match. If we’re able to do that - wrestle hard, wrestle tough and maintain our positioning - regardless of the final score, I’ll be happy because it will be a positive step in the direction of meeting our individual goals.”