WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho High wrestling coach Scott Merritt says opposing coaches are surprised when they find out Sal DeSantis is a junior. Those coaches may be a bit disappointed, but Merritt is certainly happy DeSantis has one more year on the mat for the Chargers.
DeSantis headlines Chariho’s postseason wrestling honors, earning third- team Coaches Association All-State and second team Division I-South. The 220-pounder compiled a record of 44-5 with 31 pins, went 18-1 in dual meets, 26-4 in tournaments, placed third in the state tournament and won three matches at the New England championship.
“Sal had a very strong season. He was third at the states and was first in four of the invitationals we were in. To win three matches at the New Englands shows he’s ready to butt heads with the best with a year to go. We’re hoping to look for him to continue to grow and mature and hopefully win a state title,” Merritt said.
DeSantis’ only dual-meet loss was a decision to first teamer Tyler Fenwick of Mt. Hope. Merritt said DeSantis boasts above-average strength, giving him an edge over the majority of the competition.
His loss in the state meet was to Exeter-West Greenwich’s Carl Neff. Neff won the state title and finished second in the New Englands.
“His biggest strength is his strength. We’re hoping we can get him to a camp or two in the offseason and get a little more skill, he has good skill, but he can continue to work on the basics. He’s able to hold people down and get out when he needs to. A lot of coaches can’t believe he’s a junior since he’s so strong,” Merritt said.
DeSantis took first place at the South County, Griswold, Mountie Invitational at Mt. Greylock and Smithfield Invitational tournaments. He was third at the Chad Antoch tourney.
DeSantis was a first team Division I-South wrestler a year ago and did not win any All-State honors that year.
Chariho had two other wrestlers make the second team Division I-South team. All-Division teams were selected based on overall record in dual meets as well as head-to-head results.
T.J. Lamphear was second team at 120 pounds behind Westerly’s Ian Rose and James Costigan was second team at 285 along with North Providence’s Anthony Izzi. Mt. Hope’s Jared Sousa was first team at 285.
Lamphear, a junior, went 30-8 and 19-1 with 13 pins in dual meets. He was second in three tournaments and fourth in another.
He pinned Rose in a dual meet, but lost to Rose in two tournaments.
Merritt said Lamphear has been wrestling since sixth grade and it shows with his skills. A year ago Lamphear wrestled in just four varsity matches, going 4-0.
Costigan compiled a 32-13 record with 24 pins. The junior went 16-4 in duals and 16-9 in tourneys. He captured first place at the Smithfield Invitational.
Costigan, who won a freshman state championship two years ago, is a thinker with good skills for a wrestler with just two years experienced, according to Merritt. He also boasts good balance and strength, according to his coach.
Costigan was a captain as a junior and Merritt commended him for his leadership and said big things could be coming from the heavyweight in the future.