BRISTOL - With a proven youth system that has seen wrestlers come through the ranks and succeed at all levels, it’s no surprise the Bristol Eastern wrestling team had yet another strong season with the seniors playing a key role.
Half of the seniors saw meaningful varsity time for the Lancers as Bryce Beebe, Jordon Champagne, Noah Corliss, Mike Barrett, Dylan Levesque, Hidekal Mangual and Andrew Cercone all were regulars at the varsity level this past season.
Rounding out the senior class for Bristol Eastern was David Bernier, Garrod Clute, Justin Davies, Tyler King, Nolan Short, Tyler Varasconi and Ian Wishart.
Graduating 14 seniors that stuck with the program over the years, regardless of time spent at the varsity level is impressive and is a big reason this season’s group set history at the program.
“We really pride ourselves on trying to keep kids for four years and making kids feel like they’re a part of something,” Bristol Eastern head coach Bryant Lishness said. “Having guys that don’t see meaningful time but stick with it for four years is super important. We get a lot of good young guys that come in and sometimes work their way into their lineup ahead of the other guys. They help push the young guys. It’s easy to walk away from a tough sport but they don’t. They want to be part of it. That’s what’s really separated us.”
In their time spent at Bristol Eastern, the group won three CCC South Conference titles and finished third, second and first twice in the Class L championship meet. The combined record over their four years was 67-6 overall and 31-1 against CCC opponents.
Over their final two seasons, the seniors finished unbeaten in dual meets.
Barrett, Champagne and Beebe are the three seniors that will be missed most next season.
“The three have been wrestling together since they were little,” Lishness said. “They came through the [Bristol] Gladiators [youth wrestling] program. We knew their class was going to be a special one. They were winning medals when they were really young. They’ve been on the mat so long. Whenever you have kids coming in with that type of experience, it’s a huge advantage.”
The trio combined for over 120 wins this season, were selected as All-Conference and qualified for the State Open for the second consecutive season.
Wrestling at 160-pounds this past season, Barrett set the city record in wins. He currently is at 156 wins going into Virginia Beach Nationals, where he’ll have a chance to expand on that mark.
Barrett’s accolades throughout his career consist of being a two-time Class L state champion, New England place winner in his junior season, and State Open place winner in both his junior and senior seasons.
“He had a great year and great career,” Lishness said. “He set the city record for wins with 156 and can still add to that at the nationals. The numbers speak for themselves. He’s one of the best wrestlers that has ever come to Bristol Eastern.”
Both Beebe and Champagne held down the lower weight classes this season for the Lancers.
Beebe wrestled at 106 this season and spent two years in the varsity lineup for Bristol Eastern.
“Beebe didn't get in the varsity line up until last year,” Lishness said. “He was behind Champagne his freshman and sophomore years. They would wrestle off and it would always be a close decision. Last year, Jordon went up to 113 and it opened up 106 [for Bryce]. Still it was not easy for Bryce. He had to fend off Trent Thompson. Once Bryce got in the lineup, he was one of our most consistent scorers. In two years he had almost 80 varsity wins.”
Champagne wrestled at 113 this season for Bristol Eastern and completed a stellar career.
“Champagne finished his career with over 100 wins,” Lishness said. “He was a four-year starter and was a huge scorer. He anchored the lower weights. They all got better this year led by Jordon.”
The two seniors in the lower weight classes, particularly, helped Bristol Eastern go unbeaten for consecutive seasons.
“With Jordon at 113, those two back-to-back was a huge combination,” Lishness said. “Add in [Tom] Nichols and [Carson] Sassu and that's four hammers in a row. That's what made us so tough as a dual team. Plus we had no starters below .500. It was very hard to make a run on us.”
This year’s senior class set the precedent for the Bristol Eastern program. Success isn’t a goal but rather an expectation and all 14 seniors did their part in making sure that expectation was met.
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org