BRISTOL - The St. Paul wrestling team and head coach Edward DeSimas came into the season with tempered expectations, as the Falcons program has struggled to retain wrestlers in recent years.
This season has been no exception, as St. Paul entered the year with 10 freshmen wrestlers and now has just seven remaining on its roster.
Going up against more seasoned wrestlers has also changed the structure of the Falcons’ schedule, as in the past there have been issues with injuries in scrimmages due to a mismatch.
St. Paul set its schedule up this year in order for DeSimas to try to help prepare his wrestlers by giving them conditioning training and imparting a knowledge of the sport.
The Falcons did not have a meet until the end of December and the schedule has progressively gotten tougher as the year wore on.
After starting out 2-4, the Falcons are now 5-18 on the season with the NVL/Berkshire League Championship remaining, and forfeiting matches has become the norm as St. Paul doesn’t have enough wrestlers to compete throughout the weight classes.
The Falcons do not have any wrestlers competing at 106, 132, 145, 152, 160 or 195 pounds.
“We’re doing the best we can do with what we have,” DeSimas said. “With how things are working, it’s up to parents and the wrestlers to go out and get better [outside of just our program].”
Evan Kowalski (freshman), Josh Silva (freshman), Eric Atkison (sophomore) and Patrick George (senior) are four wrestlers for the Falcons that have stood out.
All four, however, have been around .500 wrestlers this season and nobody on the team has eclipsed 20 wins.
When facing an opponent with a similar number of wrestlers, though, St. Paul is a competitive group. The five wins have come against Coventry, Stafford, THCL, Rockville and Cheshire, all teams in similar situations, according to DeSimas.
Moving forward, the Falcons are hoping to end the season with having wrestlers place at the NVL/Berkshire Championship.
Realistically, DeSimas thinks third or fourth place is possible for Kowalski, Silva, Atkison and George.
Gilbert, Oxford and Northwest Catholic are the three schools DeSimas expects to be the toughest, with Gilbert leading the way.
Terryville, another area school, brings some strong wrestlers to the championships as well, headlined by Cayleb Leclerc (120 pounds).
“The difference is those teams have experienced wrestlers and we don’t,” DeSimas said. “We’re going to show up and see what happens, but I’m not expecting any first place finishers in any weight class.”
The St. Paul program is one that is struggling right now.
“Competition is competition,” DeSimas said. “[My guys are] outmatched by kids who’ve been wrestling for a long time. We have some athletes, but can’t get any athletes to come out that have wrestling experience.”
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