WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho High's Kyle Merritt believes there is still much more that he can accomplish on a wrestling mat.
He will get that opportunity next year as he continues with the sport at Norwich University, a Division III school in Northfield, Vt.
Not that Merritt lacked for accomplishments during his four years as a Charger. Merritt was All-State four times, winning state titles his freshman and senior seasons. Merritt was Academic All-State four times and a four-year captain. His 189 career wins are a school record.
He qualified for New Englands four times, and this season he finished fourth at 145 pounds.
He also received the sportsmanship award from the Rhode Island Wrestling Coaches Association. The award, which is voted on by coaches, is presented to one wrestler in the state.
Still, Merritt wanted to continue with the sport in college.
"I've been wrestling since I was in kindergarten, and it's been a lifelong journey," Merritt said. "Unlike some other sports, wrestling ends in college. In four more years, I will be done for my life. I'm just really excited to see what I can do in college.
"I really enjoy the sport. I love putting in the grind and to see those results pay off. And the wrestling community is so welcoming."
Merritt said wrestlers have opportunities to interact with opponents that grows the camaraderie in the sport.
"Sometimes you are at tournaments for 12 hours. During breaks you talk with people from other teams," Merritt said.
Merritt would ultimately like to be an All-American before he leaves Norwich.
"Their coach saw me wrestle at the Lowell tournament and at New Englands. He was pretty confident I could be their 149 next year," Merritt said. "I just want to go in strong and try to take that position. I just want to contribute."
Norwich is the nation's oldest private military college and the birthplace of the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. It has an enrollment of about 2,600 students.
Merritt will major in criminal justice with a minor in computer crimes and forensics. He will be part of the ROTC program.
"My grandfather served in the military and one of my cousins is going in the military," Merritt said. "It's always something I've wanted to do."
Merritt said he will serve four years of active duty and likely another four in the reserves once he graduates.
Merritt has been part of the Chariho criminal justice program for the past three years. The program has won the SkillsUSA national championship two of the past three years.
What advice would he give to an incoming wrestler at Chariho?
"I usually tell freshmen and sophomores to get your work done. All four years count. Keep up the grades, put yourself out there and give yourself an opportunity to shine. When it comes time to apply to college, all four years count, not just the last two," Merritt said.