“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.