PROVIDENCE — Chariho High senior Tommy Wrzesien did not make any excuses. He freely admitted that the enormity of wrestling for a New England title affected him Saturday at the Providence Career and Technical Academy.
Wrzesien, a two-time Rhode Island champion at 182 pounds, was pinned by Ryan Fredette of Winslow, Maine, at 4:22, suffering his first loss of the season. Fredette, who is unbeaten this season, was the New England runner-up last season and is a four-time Class B Maine champion.
“I couldn’t stop thinking about the people around me when I should have zoned that out and just wrestled,” said Wrzesien, who is 47-1 this season. “I know I could have wrestled a better match. My technique was really bad. As soon as I stepped on that mat it was like I was a first-year wrestler.
“I was scared. I didn’t wrestle to my potential. I was out of the match before it even started.”
Wrzesien got the first takedown in the first period, but Fredette quickly countered with a reversal to tie it, 2-2. Fredette put Wrzesien to his back twice in the first period to seize control at 7-2 after the first two minutes.
Anything Wrzesien tried, Fredette was able to counter and turn to his advantage. Fredette added a reversal and three more back points to lead 12-2 after the second period.
Wrzesien had no choice but to take some risks in the third period, and once again Fredette made him pay by putting him to his back for the fourth time in the bout. He pinned him just 22 seconds into the third period.
Wrzesien becomes only the second Chariho wrestler to earn All-New England honors twice. He was fourth at 182 last season. He has a two-year record of 89-5.
“He has nothing to put his head down about,” Chargers coach Scott Merritt said. “It’s hard to see a kid that has been a rock for the past two years be on the big stage and see his nerves get the better of him.
“But he is only the third Chariho kid to be in the finals, and he is a two-time state champion. I couldn’t be prouder of him.”
Dave Colombo won New England titles in 1977 (98 pounds) and 1978 (105). Chariho’s last New England champion was Merritt, who won at 105 in 1985. Merritt, Colombo and Wrzesien are the only two-time state champions for the Chargers.
Wrzesien opened the tournament on Friday with a win by pin. On Saturday morning, he earned a major decision over Timberlane’s (Plaistow, N.H.) Dylan Tremblay, 12-0, in the quarterfinals.
He then edged Platt’s (Meriden, Conn.) Ben Stratton, 7-6, in the semifinals. Wrzesien led 5-4 entering the final period and went ahead 6-4 with an escape. But Stratton, the Open and Class M Connecticut champion, got a takedown with 38 seconds left to tie the match at 6. Wrzesien escaped with 27 seconds remaining and held on the for the win.
Kyle Merritt (126) and Ben Dougherty (160) both lost their first consolation bouts Saturday. They each finished 1-2 in the tournament. Merritt is 44-4 and Dougherty 44-7.
It was a strong weekend for Rhode Island wrestling. State team champion Ponaganset, the only Rhode Island team to beat Chariho in a dual meet this season, won the New England title with 83 points. Bishop Hendricken was fifth (58.5) and Coventry was sixth (49.5).
Ponaganset’s Sam Lynch avenged his loss to Hendricken’s Dylan Disano in the state title match by beating him for the New England crown, 5-2. Ponaganset’s Cole McGill took the 145 title.
Coventry’s Joziah Fry lost in the 106-pound title bout as did Devin Rivet in the 152 title match. Rivet’s bout was decided by the ultimate tiebreaker, which is a fourth overtime period. Ryan Luth of Foran (Milford, Conn.) escaped with nine seconds left for the victory. If Rivet could have prevented the escape he would have won the bout.