WESTERLY — For most high school wrestlers, maintaining weight means not gaining the pounds to put them in a higher weight class.
But for Chariho High's Nate Marchione, the task has been a different one. Last spring, Chariho coach Scott Merritt asked Marchione to move from the 182-pound class to 195. The move gives the Chargers more quality in their lineup, which they hope pays off at the state tournament in February.
So Marchione has to keep the weight on, not have it disappear.
"It gives us flexibility," Marchione said. "I was 82 (182) at the beginning of the summer. We have a lot of kids in 70 and 82 (170, 182). I've just been eating the right foods. I've been working out a lot with my weight set. I try to do it two to three times a week. Then, I also have wrestling, which keeps me in shape so I can put on the weight at the same time."
Things seem to be working out so far. Marchione is 15-3 after winning the 195-pound weight class at the Chad Antoch Memorial Tournament at Westerly High on Saturday.
Marchione was one of eight Chariho wrestlers that finished first (there are 14 weight classes). The Chargers easily took first in the 15-team tournament with 247.5 points. North Kingstown was next with 211.
Marchione fell behind 6-2 in his title match with Branford's Cody McHenry. But Marchione was able to get a reversal in the final seconds of the second period to only trail 6-4.
Marchione got another reversal with 27 seconds left in the third and final period to tie the bout, 6-6. He then put McHenry on his back and pinned him with four seconds left in the match.
"When I reversed him, I noticed he was getting tired. I could hear his breath," Marchione said. "I really pressured down on the head while taking the wrist and getting the half (half-nelson). I just drove him with all my weight and put him on his back."
Kyle Merritt (138 pounds), Dominic Bonanno (152), James Dougherty (160), Ben Dougherty (170), Cam Anderson (182), Devin Shaw (220) and Mike Phelps (285) all finished first in their divisions for the Chargers.
Merritt won all his matches by pin and did not wrestle in the third period all day.
"I just came back from Florida and was feeling a little under the weather for the past couple of days," Merritt said. "But today I didn't get winded or anything like that. I felt like I wrestled smart."
Merritt pinned Windham's Luiz Rodriguez in 3:06 in the finals. Merritt took exception when Rodriguez inadvertently continued wrestling for a few seconds after the whistle that ended the first period.
"There was a little mishap in the finals, and I think it fueled me," said Merritt, a junior who won a state title as a freshman. "Obviously, winning states is the No. 1 goal. But that is a long ways away. But for now, I just want to keep working hard in practice and keep getting better."
Ben Dougherty, last year's state champion at 160 pounds, defeated Mount Mansfield's Colby Giroux in the finals. Dougherty used a takedown in the final 10 seconds of the second period and a near-fall in the first 30 seconds of the third period to prevail, 6-2.
Anderson also won all four of his bouts with pins and did not wrestle in the third period. Shaw finished 3-0 on his way to the 220 title, winning 13-5 in the finals.
Bonanno was 3-0, winning every bout with a pin, including two in the first period. James Dougherty had three pins and a 2-0 decision in the finals.
Phelps put together four first-period pins on his way to the 285 crown.
Chariho's Wade Husing took third at 106 pounds with a 4-1 record.
"They just keep facing adversity, smacking it in the face and doing what they have to do," Chariho coach Scott Merritt said. "I do like the way things are going. They are working hard, but we have to stay grounded.
"I had to lay into them a little big last night. Sometimes you just have to remind them of the goal [to win the state title]. This is nice, but there is a bigger goal."
Chariho next hosts East Providence on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Bulldogs finish 14th
Westerly placed 14th with 22 points. Westerly's Brian Garcia (126) and Judea Balmonte (220) both finished 3-2.
Westerly next travels to Woonsocket on Thursday for a 5 p.m. meet. Burrillville will also wrestle.