Stonington Borough, CT
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PROVIDENCE — Westerly High’s Shane Shortt knew he wasn’t the favorite to win the state wrestling 152-pound class title with defending New England champ Christian LaBrie of Exeter-West Greenwich in the bracket.
So when Shortt lost a tough quarterfinal match Friday to Hope’s Emmanuel Borsay, 11-7, his chance to shock LaBrie for the title was gone, but all “hope” was not lost.
Shortt made a plan to win the consolation title, finish third, earn All-State honors and qualify for next weekend’s New England tourney. And the Bulldog junior did just that, winning four consolation matches Saturday and avenging a regular-season loss to beat Tolman’s Darius Harrison in the third-place match, 4-3, to achieve both of his goals at the state tourney at Providence Career & Technical Academy
“It was a tremendous day for Shane and he is very deserving of All-State,” Westerly coach Al Gaccione said. “LaBrie was going to be very tough to beat in his bracket, so Shane did almost as well as he could.”
Shortt’s All-State berth capped a productive day for the Bulldogs, who finished 19th with 39.5 points. Senior Ian Rose won the fifth-place match over Noah Kreiger, of North Kingstown, 5-2, at 120 pounds. Also, while senior Drew Widdifield went 2-2 and did not place at 138 pounds, he registered his coveted 100th career victory with a 7-3 win over Middletown’s Joe Rutledge in the consolation fourth round, avenging two regular-season losses to Rutledge.
“I didn’t have 100 victories in sight as a goal, but coach [Gaccione] told me in was in my grasp if I would have a strong senior season,” Widdifield said. “I thought I might fall short when I saw Rutledge as the opponent after my 99th win, but beating him really makes this special. The hard work I put in for four years paid off.”
Shortt joined his older brother, Cory, who won the 160-pound title as a senior in 2010, as a New England qualifier in the family. Next year, he wants to join him as a state champ, but an All-State selection and a New England berth suits him fine now.
“There is a huge gap between third and fourth place,” Shortt said.
“I gave it my all to extend my wrestling season. Harrison beat me in overtime, but I felt good today. I even felt I had a chance to win the whole thing, but lost a very tough quarterfinal. LaBrie is tough, but everyone loses once in a while. I was inspired thinking about Cody Brown’s great win last year in the 138-pound class for us.”
Shortt shook off the tight quarterfinal loss to rip off decision victories of 18-3, 8-3 and 7-3 before meeting Harrison. He jumped to a quick 2-0 lead and extended it to 4-1 with a two-point takedown in the third period. Harrison got two points back late, but never challenged to take the lead as Shortt held strong.
“Shane showed great clock management with the lead,” Gaccione said. “He got pay back and a New England berth all in one shot. He showed a lot of focus going through the wrestlebacks after losing a tough one that could have gone either way Friday.”
Gaccione also lauded the efforts of seniors Widdifield and Rose.
“Drew had wrestled with a banged-up hand in his career and he broke his nose Friday when he got head-butted,” Gaccione said. To get 100 wins, it’s a rarity in our history so it’s quite a feat.”
Widdifield was 22-15 as a freshman, 17-10 as a sophomore when he was sixth in the state 106-pound class and 30-12 last season. He finished 31-15 in what Gaccione called a “very tough” 138-pound class to finish 100-47 overall.
Rose posted a 31-15 record this season, but only a 12-9 mark against tougher competition in tournaments, making him somewhat of a outside shot to place in the states, Gaccione said. He won three of four consolation matches Saturday after losing Friday in the quarterfinals by pin to Exeter-West Greenwich’s Blake Stamas.
“He was great in dual meets but so-so in tournaments,” Gaccione said. “He’s always been strong on top and on the bottom, but today he wrestled great on his feet. That was the difference for what was a big turnaround for him to finish fifth.”