PROVIDENCE — Chariho High’s latest two state wrestling champions earned their titles in totally different ways Saturday night at the Providence Career & Technical Academy.
It didn't seem to matter too much — they were both pretty pleased afterward.
Senior Ben Dougherty dominated La Salle Academy’s Leonard Breit at 170 pounds, prevailing with a tech fall, 16-1. It was his second state title after winning the 160 crown last season
Junior Dominic Bonanno earned his first state title, holding off Mt. Hope’s Aidan Bennett, 2-1, at 152 pounds.
Chariho finished tied for third in the team standings with Cumberland at 176.5 points. Bishop Hendricken was first (221) and Ponaganset second (190).
Dougherty’s match was almost never in doubt. He led 2-0 after the first period and was ahead 10-0 after the second. Dougherty stands at 42-4 for the season.
“Last year, I lost a lot, so the confidence level going into states is a lot different [this season], the mentality is different,” Dougherty said. “I never really seemed like a tough dude, but a lot of people came up to me this year asking for advice.”
Dougherty said he spent the offseason becoming more adept on his feet and developing into a complete wrestler.
Dougherty becomes only the third wrestler in Chariho history with two state titles. Dave Colombo and Tommy Wrzesien are the other two. His name will now appear twice on a banner in the school’s gym that lists the state and New England champions.
“I love both of those dudes, so this is really great for me,” Dougherty said. “I like being able to look back and feeling like I did everything I could. I like seeing my name up there twice.”
Bonanno fell behind in the second period, 1-0, when Bennett was able to get an escape. But the match became tied later in the period when Bennett was penalized a point for stalling.
In the third period, Bonanno started in the bottom position and was able to get an escape to take the lead, 2-1.
From there, he just had to keep Bennett at bay as both wrestlers were on their feet.
“I knew if I got the underhook he wouldn't be able to do anything. So I just kept driving it and driving it,” Bonanno said.
Bonanno improved to 34-7 with the win.
“It means a lot. I’ve been working on this since second grade,” he said. “A lot of work, a lot of extra practice and a lot of extra hours in the offseason and in the summer.”
Chariho had two other wrestlers in title bouts.
Kyle Merritt finished second at 138 pounds in a closely contested bout against Bishop Hendricken’s Nick Fine, losing 6-5. Merritt trailed 6-1 in the third period, but used a reversal and a two-point nearfall to make it 6-5, a point short.
Merritt nearly had Fine on his back long enough in the third period to get a three-point nearfall and tie the match at 6.
Fine finished second at 126 pounds at the state meet last season and also beat Merritt during the regular season.
Nate Marchione finished second at 195, losing to Ponaganset’s Tyler Riggs, 9-7, in the title bout. Riggs won the state title last season in the weight class and was third at New Englands.
Marchione trailed 9-4 about halfway through the third period before getting a reversal to make it 9-6. Riggs was penalized a point for stalling to make it 9-7. Marchione nearly turned Riggs onto his back several times in the final 30 seconds before losing.
All four finalists qualified for next weekend’s New England championships at PCTA.
Two other Chariho wrestlers also qualified for New Englands with wins in the bouts for third place.
Cam Anderson defeated North Providence’s Nick Symmes, 9-2, and Devin Shaw beat Cumberland’s Phil Coppolino, 6-1.
Chariho freshman Wade Husing finished fourth at 106 pounds, as did James Dougherty at 160. Mike Phelps was sixth at 285. Phelps did not wrestle the bout for fifth place due to an injury.
Westerly's Brian Garcia finished with a 3-2 record at 126 pounds, and Judea Balmonte was 2-2 at 220.