Wrestling: Chariho crowns two state champions (updated with video highlights, interviews)

Wrestling: Chariho crowns two state champions (updated with video highlights, interviews)

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PROVIDENCE — Two more names will make their way onto the state champions banner that hangs in the Chariho High gym.

Senior Tommy Wrzesien (182 pounds) and junior Ben Dougherty (160) earned the elusive titles during the RIIL state tournament at the Providence Career & Technical Center on Saturday.

Wrzesien moved to 44-0 this season with his second straight state championship, winning in dominating fashion.

Wrzesien defeated Cranston West’s Dimitri Bradley with a tech fall in the third period, 15-0. Wrzesien put Bradley to his back three times in the second period to build an 11-0 lead.

Wrzesien has not lost to a Rhode Island opponent in two years.

“The biggest thing about states is you wrestle these kids all year-round, and as you keep going they know you and what you like to do. It makes it a lot tougher. That was the fourth time I had wrestled him,” Wrzesien said. “It’s less stressful at New Englands.”

Wrzesien advanced to the finals with a 9-1 major decision against Mount Hope’s Noah Braga.

Dougherty beat Mount Hope’s Corey Grifka, 3-1, in the title bout. Dougherty had beaten Grifka, 1-0, earlier in the season. In the title bout, he took a 2-0 lead with a takedown late in the first period.

“The first takedown is probably the most important moment in the match, for me at least,” said Dougherty, who is 43-5. “With the way I wrestle, I wear people down. It definitely made me feel a lot better about the match and where it was going.”

Dougherty was called for an illegal hold in the second period to only lead 2-1, but an escape early in the third period gave him a 3-1 advantage. He was in control from there.

“It means a lot to me. Half the happiness of winning the state championship is being able to say my name will be on that banner — I am a state champion at Chariho High,” Dougherty said.

Dougherty said the state tournament is always the goal through the ups and downs of a wrestling season.

“It’s important to realize not every single thing matters,” Dougherty said. “What matters is the overall goal — the big dance, states. I’m always working to that, everything else is practice, even the matches. It’s important not to get too caught up in the day to day.”

Dougherty advanced to the title bout with a 4-2 win over Westerly’s Brady Holdredge in the semifinals.

Dougherty got a takedown in the first period to take control. A reversal in the second period put him up, 4-0. Holdredge got a takedown in the final period, but it came too late.

Both Wrzesien and Dougherty qualified for next weekend’s New England tournament at PCTA.

Chariho finished fifth in the team standings with 135 points. Ponaganset was first with 196 and Bishop Hedricken second with 180. Westerly was 22nd with 21.5.

Kyle Merritt, who won the state title last season at 113 pounds, finished third at 126 and qualified for New Englands. Merritt defeated Cumberland’s Kyle Faria, 7-1, in the bout for third place. Earlier in the day, Merritt lost in the semifinals, 5-2.

Dominic Bonanno placed fourth at 145 pounds. He lost in the bout for third place, 3-1.

James Dougherty finished fourth at 152, losing in the bout for third place, 6-1.

Max Duscha finished fourth at 195, losing 3-1 in the bout for third place.


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