WESTERLY — In the early stages of the this season, the young Chariho High wrestling team is showing signs of progress.
The Chargers had a first-, second- and third-place finish and placed fourth as a team at the Chad Antoch Memorial Tournament Saturday at Westerly High.
Junior T.J. Lamphear reached the championship match at 120 pounds, but unfortunately for him, ran into Vermont state champion Ben Bliss in the finals.
Bliss, who wrestles for Mt. Mansfield Union, was constantly on the offensive during the 120-pound championship and won by tech fall 17-2 in the second period.
Lamphear was 3-0 with two pins prior to the title match and said he didn’t know Bliss’ reputation prior to their championship tilt.
“I didn’t know he was the Vermont state champ,” Lamphear said. “I don’t really care what the other guy has done in the past. I try not to psych myself out.
“I’m happy with the second-place finish.”
Chariho coach Scott Merritt said he wasn’t surprised at Lamphear’s finish.
“He’s only got two losses this year and both were in the finals of a tournament,” Merritt said. “He did have a great opponent in the finals — a state champion.”
Junior Josh Merritt was the Chargers’ only first-place finisher.
Merritt wrestled at 95- pounds, a weight class that only exists in certain tournaments like Antoch and Mt. Greylock.
Merritt was 4-0 in the 95 pound division and had one pin to earn his first-ever varsity first-place finish. The class had five wrestlers.
“I was kind of shocked because I had a lot of competition,” Merritt said. “I was 20 pounds lighter the previous year and I worked on my quickness and skill in the offseason.”
Coach Merritt said that weight is really his son’s only weakness.
“He’s 14-1 on the season and he’s been giving everything he has since he was 7 years old,” Scott Merritt said. “His only nemesis is his lack of size, but he makes up with a huge heart. Our plan is to put 10 pounds of muscle on him this year.”
Sal DeSantis was the only other Chariho wrestler to finish in the top three.
DeSantis won the consolation match by pin at 220 pounds.
After a scoreless first period, DeSantis was down 2-0 after a near fall.
The Chariho junior quickly reversed out of the tough situation and got a near fall to go up 4-2 at the end of two periods.
DeSantis again exchanged near falls in the third period, which made the score 6-4, before he got the pin with a minute left in the match.
“He’s (DeSantis) very quick for a 220-pounder,” Merritt said. “We’ve got to get him back into top condition after he missed some time with a back issue.”
In addition to the top three finishers, three Chariho wrestlers reached the consolation finals, but did not win the match.
James Costigan, a junior, went 3-2 with three pins to take fourth at heavyweight.
Junior Regan Beaudreau lost in the consolation finals but posted a 4-2 mark with four pin wins at 182.
Sophomore Josh Monteiro went 2-2 at 132 pounds and was also fourth.
Chariho placed fourth out of the 18 teams that attended the tournament with 108 points. Coventry won the tournament with 183 points.
“I feel we’ve got to go a little harder in practice,” Merritt said. “We’re a turn-the-corner type of team. We’ve got two years to get to where we want to go, which is to be one of the top teams in the state.”
Hunter Paine posted a 3-2 mark at 113 pounds and won one match by pin.
Skyler Van Horn wrestled at 152 pounds, went 3-2 and won two matches by pin.
Curtis Storrs went 3-2 at 160 pins and won a match by pin.
Chris Hall picked up a pair of wins at 138 and pinned one opponent. Both of his losses were to Westerly’s Drew Widdifield.
Zac Sposato (195) and Tyler Chatell (170) each went 1-2. Chatell pinned his opponent.
Next up for the Chargers is a match at Cranston West Thursday at 7 p.m.