The ability and wherewithal to rebound from a loss is essential in a sport like wrestling, where the next match often comes up quickly.
Greenwich’s wrestlers have exhibited that bounce-back type ability.
Following a humbling season-opening loss to Fairfield Warde on Dec. 18, Greenwich finished a solid sixth in the team standings at the Guilford Invitational three days later. This past weekend, Greenwich registered a record of 3-2 at the Trumbull Duals, defeating Pomperaug, New Fairfield and Shelton.
“Overall, I’m very positive about our start to the season,” Cardinals coach Jere Petersen said. “We did a good job of competing in every single match at the Trumbull Duals. We got blasted against Fairfield Warde (a 69-6 loss), they won 12 out of 14 matches in a dual meet. But it was a positive turnaround for us in the Guilford tournament.”
At the Guilford Invitational, Cardinals junior Carlos DeWinter won the 120-pound weight class title and senior Emanuel Lai captured the 138-pound championship.
Freshman Archer Manning (106) was fourth in his weight class at the Guilford Invitational, as was GHS teammate Justin Mejia, a junior, (138).
William Grimes, a junior, took fifth in the 132-pound division and Greenwich teammate Garrett O’Dell was fifth in the 145-bracket. During the tournament, several Cardinals competitors defeated opponents from Warde that they lost to in the dual meet several days prior.
“We weren’t the team that did not show up mentally against Warde at home,” Petersen said of his squad’s performance at the Guilford Invitational. “I think the way we bounced back from our loss to Fairfield Warde was impressive. We just weren’t mentally ready to wrestle, but at the tournament, they were ready to go. The kids bounced back and wrestled well.”
The Trumbull Duals on Saturday saw Greenwich drop a tight 43-36 decision to Trumbull and lose to Amity, 51-27. Their victories came against Pomperaug (49-17), New Fairfield (46-30) and Shelton (58-21).
Manning (106) has a record of 8-3 on the season and went 3-2 at the Trumbull Duals. All three of his wins came by pinfall.
“It’s always a bonus if a freshman steps into the lineup and wins his matches right away,” Petersen said. “He (Manning) got pinned in his match against Warde in our home match to start the season, but turned around and beat the same Warde opponent, 7-3, in the Guilford tournament, which was really impressive.”
DeWinter (120) is 8-1, his lone loss coming at the Trumbull Duals. He pinned two opponents at the tournament and won two more matches by major decision.
Lai has won seven of his first eight 132-pound matches, going 4-1 at the Trumbull tourney, with four pins along the way. O’Dell (138, 7-3 overall record) went 5-0 on Saturday, pinning four foes, while winning his other match by technical fall. Mejia, meanwhile, was 2-0 at Trumbull over the weekend and is 6-2 on the early-season.
“We really had a nice showing at Trumbull,” Petersen said. “I think we are much better than our 3-3 record.”
The Cardinals’ next challenge occurs Saturday at the Southington Duals — a competition that should also test each wrestler.
“Southington is really solid and there are going to be strong teams from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts there,” Petersen said. “We should have our full lineup for the first time, so we are looking forward to seeing how we do.”
Indeed, tournaments run in a dual match format gets each competitor on the mat numerous times.
“The biggest thing with the dual tournaments is that we are guaranteed five matches, so you get a lot of matches in,” Petersen said. “You get some opportunities to get some guys in the lineup and get them experience at the varsity level.”
Next week, the Cardinals host Westhill Wednesday, then travel to the Greater Hartford Open on Saturday. They will compete in a much-anticipated event for them on Jan. 18 — the Brunswick School Invitational.
“The goal we have for everyone is to get a little bit better every time they step on the mat,” Petersen said. “You learn so much more from your losses than from your wins. Losing early in the season isn’t a bad thing, as long as you learn from it, work hard and correct those mistakes. We lost a couple of matches, because we went for big moves when we didn’t need to. Sometimes, you can force things to happen, you have to take what your opponent gives you.”