Like last year, the Brunswick School wrestling team began its season on Saturday by finishing first in the team standings at the Rumble of the Hill Tournament at Hopkins School.
And like last year the Bruins hope their season-opening win was a prelude of victories to follow.
Coming off a season that saw it win its fifth consecutive Western New England Independent School Wrestling Tournament, place second at the New England championships and finish as the runner-up at its own Brunswick Invitational, the Bruins are eager to once again, accomplish plenty on the mat during the winter months.
“Another interesting year is on the horizon,” Brunswick veteran coach Tim Ostrye said. “We’re young in some spots and we have veterans in others. It will be all about matchups. We don’t have all of our kids in right weight classes yet and we don’t have everyone in the lineup yet. When everything gets aligned, we should be a tough team to contend with.”
Leadership, especially in a sport such as wrestling, that requires a lot of training and dedication, is significant and the squad has two captains primed for the task.
Senior co-captain Harry Fett, who will compete in the Bruins’ 160-pound matches, is seeking to build upon a junior season in which he posted more than 30 victories.
“Last year helped me learn how to be one of the leaders of the team,” Fett said. “Looking at Lachlan Rosato, Jack Ocken, John DeLucia (last season’s senior captains), those guys helped me lead well. I learned a lot from them. I’ve been here at Brunswick for 14 years, since I was a little kid, so it feels cool to step up and be one of the captains of the team my senior year.”
Fett’s season began in championship fashion, as he claimed the 160-pound title at the Rumble of the Hill tournament — one of the events the Bruins are aiming to win this season.
“Our main goal is to win the New England Championship this year,” Fett said. “I don’t think we’ve ever won it before, but we’ve come close, like we did last season.”
Brunswick’s match against Greenwich High School and the Tabor Tournament, which takes place Dec. 15, are marked on the Bruins’ calendar.
“Our match against Greenwich — the Town Crown — is a match we always look forward to and it’s going to be at Greenwich, so the atmosphere will be awesome,” Fett said. “The Tabor tournament will have about 30 or 40 teams, so that could be a preview of the New England finals.”
Senior co-captain Tim Saunders placed second in his weight class at the NEISWA Championships and won the Most Pins Least Time award at the Western New England tourney last season.
“The team is young, but developing and getting set,” said Saunders, the Bruins’ 195-pound wrestler. “This is my fifth year on the team, I’ve been on the team since I was an eighth-grader, so it’s been interesting to see the progression.”
Brunswick hosts Avon Old Farms School in its first dual meet of the season Wednesday at 3 p.m.
AT THE HELM: Ostrye is in his 33rd season as coach of the Bruins. He has guided Brunswick to more than 30 FAA titles and 13 state (Western New England) championships. Besides winning the state title and FAA championship, Brunswick placed second at its own tournament last season.
Bob Benjamin begins his 23rd season as an assistant coach, while John Martin and Neil Minsky have served as assistant coaches for 13 seasons.
WHO’S GONE?: Rosato registered a record of 33-4 last season in the 220-pound division, while finishing first at the New England and Western New England competitions. He capped his Bruins’ career with more than 100 victories.
Ocken (195), DeLucia (160), Rishi Das (126) and Peter Mullen (170), all of whom had successful careers, were among the graduates.
WHO’S ON THE MAT?: Chris Perry, a sophomore, earned All-American honors at the National Prep Wrestling Championships at Lehigh University as a freshman last season. He won his weight class (113) with a record of 37-4. William MacGillivray, a eighth-graer, joins the squad as a 106-pounder and eighth-grader Jackson Wolfram will compete at 113. Kaden Saad (freshman) and Jojo McCurdy (sophomore) will wrestle at 120 and 126, respectively.
Sophomore Will Donovan (132), returns, as does junior Luca Errico (138) who was injured last season and should spark the squad at his division. Nick Bell, a sophomore, excelled at 132 last season, going 37-8. He moves up to the 145-pound class this year. Nadji Ngbokoli (junior) brings experience at the 152-pound class, as do Fett and junior Alex Burdick at 160.
Dylan Reynolds (senior, 170) and Clayton Ostrove (junior, 182), Saunders are primed to have strong seasons in their respective weight divisions. Saunders won 34 matches last winter, while Ostrover picked up 31 victories.
Senior Nick Villis (220) and junior Howard Powell (285), both of whom starred on Brunswick’s football team, are in their first season on the squad. Freshman Cliff Belknap joins the team at 285.
STRENGTHS: “In the middle weight classes we are solid,” Ostrye said. “We have some experienced kids who have competed in a lot of tournaments and faced tough opponents. The learning curve is slower this year, with some new kids in the lineup. So we are focusing on getting the new wrestlers to learn and improve.”
COACH’S COMMENT: “Duplicating what we accomplished last season is going to be difficult, but I don’t want this team to under achieve,” Ostrye said. “I’m looking for us to compete in a lot of good matches, with our kids doing a good job as always.”
TOURNAMENT TIME: The Brunswick Invitational is scheduled to be held on Jan. 19. The event includes 15 teams, including last season’s champion Northfield Mount Hermon and for the first time, Greenwich HIgh School.