Judea Balmonte

Judea-Jon Balmonte

Head coach: Al Gaccione (15th season).

Last year: Westerly finished 0-22 and only had four wrestlers on the team when the season ended. Brady Holdredge was fifth at the state meet.

Returning to varsity:

Junior: Judea Balmonte (220). Sophomore: Brian Garcia (126).

New to varsity:

Juniors: Jorge Alves, Malikai Tutt (182). Sophomores: Xavier Dubois (285), Adam Gomez (152), Dan Simard (132/138), Alex Sisco (170), John Urso (145/152). Freshmen: Alex Brophy (126), Mike Comstock (126/132), Carter Rathbun (195).

Outlook: The news is good for the program — the roster numbers are up.

It gets even better. Football coach Duane Maranda and his son, Danny, a former New London wrestler, have taken over the middle school program. Thirty wrestlers showed up the first day.

Garcia and Balmonte are the only two wrestlers with varsity experience. Balmonte is shooting for a podium spot at the state tournament, which would place him in the top six.

Westerly has dropped down to Division II as it rebuilds.

“I wasn’t sure what to expect with only two guys coming back, but it’s encouraging — what is happening at the middle school and here,” Gaccione said.

Comstock is a transfer from Lincoln with experience.

Coach’s take: “I told the guys to, No. 1, set their own goals. As they start to achieve their personal goals, the team goals will follow. I think we can be a .500-plus team. That will be a successful year with only two kids in the lineup with experience.”