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WESTERLY — Shane Shortt’s first-place finish in the 152-pound division was the highlight of the Westerly High wrestling team’s performance at the Chad Antoch Memorila Tournament at Westerly High Saturday.
Shortt, a junior, won the Antoch tournament as a freshman, but fell short as a sophomore.
“I really wanted to win it this year,” Shortt said. “It’s a home tournament and I really wanted to finish first.”
Shortt won his first two matches by pin, took the semifinal match by tech fall 16-1 and reached the finals where he faced Narragansett’s Reed Nelson.
Shortt was clearly the more aggressive wrestler from the start and piled up eight first- period points on a near fall and six back points.
Shortly after falling behind 8-0, the match was paused and Nelson reached his feet with a look of frustration on his face.
Shortt finished off the match and came away with a 12-2 win in the finals.
“Shane beat him in the South County tournament, but he was much more dominant in this match,” Westerly coach Al Gaccione said. “He seemed like he was able to get in his (Reed’s) head a little. Once you get into a wrestler’s head mentally, some guys aren’t mentally tough and they break, and he (Shortt) broke him.”
While Shortt didn’t directly comment on Reed’s display in the first period, he did say he was surprised that such a familiar foe didn’t wrestle a tougher match.
“I wrestled him before and it was a close match,” Shortt said. “I was surprised. I thought he’d do better than that. I thought he was going to put me through more, but I wanted this one really bad.
“I tried to keep him on the ground as much as I could. I didn’t want him to get to his feet where he could maybe turn things around.”
Dante Turano finished in second place in the 95-pound division.
The 95-pound weight class is only used in certain tournaments such as the Antoch Tournament and Mt. Greylock. Only five wrestlers participated in that class.
Turano went 2-2 with two pinfall victories.
No other Westerly wrestler finished in the top three in their respective weight class, but Drew Widdifield did reach the consolation finals at 138.
The Bulldogs senior wrestled Ponaganset’s Jarrett Clarke very evenly throughout the entire match.
He and Clarke were tied 1-1 until Clarke picked up the two winning points on a reversal with under a minute left in the match.
Widdifield finished his day with a 3-2 mark and he won all three of his matches by pinfall.
Widdifield pinned Chariho’s Chris Hall twice in Saturday’s tournament.
Only nine Westerly wrestlers competed, so a 13th-place finish (49 points) was not that surprising to Gaccione.
“I did notice today that some of our guys didn’t maintain that mental focus. Some of our guys lost that focus and got down on points,” Gaccione said.
“I’m sure some of our guys could have wrestled better, but you just never know what you’re getting into.
“ A guy could be 7-4, but his four losses could be to some of the best wrestlers in his state, and that was the case with one of our guys.
“When you wrestle at South County you can say, ‘OK, I’ve seen these guys, I know these guys,’ but we have teams from Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut ,and you just don’t know what exactly they’re bringing to the table.”
Coventry won the tournament with 183 points. Narragansett was second with 116 points and Haddam-Killingworth was third with 111.
Bobby Deary (170) and Duane Burdick (182) each went 1-2 at their respective weight classes.
Burdick won his match by pin.
The Bulldogs next wrestle against South Kingstown and Bishop Hendricken at Hendricken on Wednesday at 5 p.m.