By Evan Mugford
---- — GEORGETOWN — There’s good reason why Georgetown’s Chris Paquette and David Ingraham wear their varsity wrestling pins with such pride — they have two more than anyone else.
In 2007, Paquette and Ingraham were a couple of seventh-graders heading toward a winter of discontent. Not entirely smitten with the idea of playing basketball, and because Georgetown is without a hockey program, Ingraham took his father’s advice and joined Mike Curley’s cooperative wrestling team, his introduction to the sport.
“At the first practice, I realized that I was the only young guy there,” said Ingraham, who quickly managed to convince Paquette into joining. “About two weeks into it he joined the team. That was the basis for how we started.”
Six years later, and these once Royal greenhorns are now a pair of fully fledged senior captains who, along with junior Matt Prescott (out with a knee injury suffered during football), are the last remnants of a time when seventh-graders were allowed to join varsity programs at Georgetown.
In accordance with the Georgetown Middle/High School Student Athlete/Parent Handbook, only eighth-graders with a waiver approved by the School Committee will be allowed to join the wrestling team, granted that the minimum roster requirement has not been filled — no middle school student can displace a high school student.
When 132-pound Ingraham and 152-pound Paquette were a duo of 103-pound seventh-graders, neither athlete saw more than just a scrap of legitimate varsity action, Ingraham with one match and Paquette with three, numbers that scarcely grew when they hit the eighth grade.
Curley understands that while a middle-school athlete shouldn’t be given the same expectations of a high-school athlete, it’s hard to deny the importance of those early, formative school years when technique-building can become such a boon for their high school career.
“It wouldn’t be wise to have them wrestling up with high-schoolers, because there is a big difference in the age and maturity gap, a huge jump,” said Curley. “But it’s great because you’re not thrusting these kids into these huge and meaningful matches. They’re getting that extra year of drilling and learning moves, of getting adjusted to the sport’s culture.
“It really depends on the maturity level of the kid. At the seventh-grade level, you’d like for them to start training, but competing at the high school level might be asking a little too much,” said Curley, who referenced recent Royal alum Dean Nemeroff, another six-year wrestler who capped off his career with a state championship.
“With those three guys — Dave, Chris and Matt — you were able to see right away that they were physically and mentally capable, that they loved the sport, and they loved being in the room, drilling and training.”
For these two senior captains, experience is everything, and their first order of business is carrying on the tradition of Royal leadership.
“Now that I’m a senior, it allows me to look back at all of the captains before me. I can take their best traits and then share them with the underclassmen on this team,” said Paquette, who’s looking to have a huge final season after missing the vast majority of last season with a pair of ankle injuries.
“Just like how the past seniors made me feel welcome, I want to do my best to make these guys feel like they’re a part of the team, always cheering them on during the match, giving them advice, working with them and training them in the right way — whatever will help.”
Friends since the first grade, it’s no wonder that Ingraham and Paquette are looking at this season with a similar mindset.
“We understand how wrestling is a pretty hard sport, and although I can see why people dread it, once the season starts, so does this welcoming atmosphere where everyone wants to win and just be a team, which makes it fun to be involved with,” said Ingraham.
“As a captain, I just want to be supportive. I want to be a captain that leads by example, a captain that pushes the team in a positive direction, and one that makes them want to come back the next day and work even harder.”
Coach: Mike Curley (5th season)
Last year’s record: 3-17-2
Key returning wrestlers: Charlie Galanis, soph., 113 lbs; Mike Gallanar, jr., 126 lbs; Dave Ingraham, sr., 132 lbs; Chris Paquette, sr., 145 lbs.
Newcomers: Carsten LaPlante, fr., 106 lbs; Jovan Geronimo, fr., 120 lbs.
Strengths: Most athletic team in recent history.
Coach’s outlook: “We have a rich mixture of skill-sets on the team this year. In the lower weights we have some great technicians and in the upper weights we have some very physical wrestlers. As a coach, I would like to see team members learning from each other.”
Coach: Dennis Puleo (10th season)
Last year’s record: 8-13
Key returning wrestlers: Tom Funk, sr., 120 lbs; Jeff Funk, sr., 138-145 lbs; Mike McCarron, sr., 170 lbs; Kevin Clark, sr., 132-138 lbs; Bret Connolly, jr., 152 lbs; Kyle Knox, soph., 113 lbs; Joe Garfi, soph., 132 lbs; Josh Wesolowski, soph., 132 lbs; Alex Hean, sr., 120 lbs; Sean Clohisy, jr., 195 lbs; Niki Crawford, jr., 106 lbs.
Newcomers: Ryan Walsh, jr., 126 lbs; Nick Bonasoro, jr., 220 lbs; Trevor Pereira, sr., 182 lbs; Dylan Cebula, jr., 120 lbs; Mike Sullivan, soph., 132 lbs; Colin Bode, fr., 170 lbs; Noah Mahli, fr., 160 lbs; Joe Raimondi, fr., 132 lbs; Garrett Lischke, fr., 106 lbs.
Strengths: Four experienced seniors.
Concerns: Lack of depth. Unable to fill several weight classes.
Coach’s outlook: “We hope to be competitive, and we hope to see improvement toward the end of the season so we can qualify individuals for the States.”
Coach: Shawn McElligott (16th season)
Last year’s record: 22-5 (Division III North Sectional Runner-Up)
Key returning wrestlers: Victor Ramirez, sr., 120-126 lbs; Mark Rosmarinofski, sr., 120-126 lbs; Clay Bruneau, sr., 182-195 lbs; Josh Lannon, sr., 152-160 lbs; Dave Manning, sr., 220-285 lbs; Jesse Caldwell, sr., 145-152 lbs; Mark Boyle, jr., 160-170 lbs; Cody Nixon, jr., 132-138 lbs; Luke Boyle, soph., 132-138 lbs; John Boyle, fr., 120-126 lbs.
Newcomers: Brody Johnson, fr., 106 lbs; Rames Medrano, fr., 106-113 lbs; Charlton Frauenfelder, fr., 220 lbs; Jake Lyons, soph., 220 lbs.
Strengths: Experience. We have a lot of veterans back.
Coach’s outlook: “We have to do a good job of getting some of the younger and newcomers to mix with our veterans, which might take some time. If we can do that, we should be competitive for the CAL and Division III North Section.”