BRISTOL - Wednesday nightâ€™s wrestling match between Terryville and St. Paul served as a microcosm of both teamsâ€™ struggles through the first month of the season.
The Falcons won four of their five matches against Terryville, taking the first four decicively before dropping the final match when Falcons sophomore Benjamin Foligno was pinned after his opponent moved down a weight class for the match.
Despite taking four of five from the Kangaroos, the Falcons lost the match, 48-36.
â€śWe have no bodies,â€ť St. Paul head coach Ed Desimas explained. â€śThatâ€™s the hard part.â€ť
Only five matches were played on Wednesday after St. Paul was forced to forfeit seven (also, the Kangaroos forfeited two matches to the Falcons), immediately conceding 42 points to Terryville, which took home the win despite being outmatched on the mat.
The scoreboard told a completely different story, one that has become all too familiar for St. Paul, which continues to struggle with filling out a critically depleted roster.
Meanwhile, Terryville walked away with the win, despite only claiming one victory on the mat. With the seven forfeits, St. Paul would have had to win by pin or forfeit in all seven of the other matches just to earn a tie.
When a match was actually played, the Kangaroos looked outmatched by St. Paulâ€™s wrestlers. For Terryville, it was once again a reminder of the growing pains the program must endure as it navigates through a season packed with new faces.
â€śItâ€™s a rebuilding year,â€ť first-year Terryville head coach Joe Faitak said. â€śWe have a lot of young guys, a lot of freshmen and sophomores who have never wrestled before. Weâ€™re trying to build the team and the program back up, but when you do that, thereâ€™s a lot of instruction that has to go on.â€ť
The outcome was taken with a grain of salt on each side. Faitak described it as â€śa disappointing winâ€ť for Terryville, while St. Paulâ€™s steadily shrinking lineup has caused the Falcons to reconstruct their goals and expectations as the season goes on.
With team wins even more difficult to come by due to forfeit points awarded to the opponent, St. Paul is choosing to focus on individual improvements, and working only on whatâ€™s within their own control. When looked at through that scope, Wednesday night didnâ€™t feel like a defeat.
â€śItâ€™s just a smaller roster,â€ť sophomore Eric Atkinson said, after winning his match via pin on Wednesday. â€śLike our coach says, we donâ€™t have 14 guys. We canâ€™t really focus on team scores. We have to focus on improving ourselves and helping our teammates getting better for their next match.â€ť
What St. Paul lacks in roster size, Terryville lacks in experience. Its numbers might exceed St. Paulâ€™s nine wrestlers that were listed on the preseason roster - that number has dwindled even more as players have left the program - but Terryvilleâ€™s group is still working through the basics of the sport, as many of the Kangaroos look to learn a new sport in the middle of the season.
â€śWeâ€™ve got one guy whoâ€™s been wrestling since sixth grade, but other than that, most guys didnâ€™t start until late in high school,â€ť Faitak said. â€śYouâ€™ve got some guys who youâ€™re teaching like itâ€™s brand new â€¦ the most experience these guys have is two years.â€ť
While both teams face different challenges, both must adjust expectations. St. Paul has to look at the individual performances rather than the final score. Terryville must also eschew wins and losses, and instead focus on the individual improvements by its new young core that hopes to build the program into a future contender.
â€śJuggling that has been the biggest challenge so far,â€ť Faitak said. â€śWeâ€™re trying to hang on to little victories, but also taking the opportunities to look at what we need to work on.â€ť
Ryan Chichester can be reached at email@example.com