PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Mount Anthony Union High School wrestling team set yet another standard in its long and storied history, riding two champions -- Troy Gassaway and Jesse Webb -- and three other place-finishers to repeat as New England wrestling champions, the first time the Patriots have ever done it.
"It feels really good, nearly indescribable, the feeling is just setting in now," said MAU coach Scott Legacy minutes after the end of the tournament. "Going back to back is incredible. The kids should be proud, they set a lot of records this year and put themselves in a position to be considered on the top 3 teams ever for Mount Anthony wrestling."
Mount Anthony scored 121 points, 13 more than Connecticut rival Danbury. Exeter-West Greenwich (R.
Webb became a two-time regional champion facing the same opponent in the final this season as he did last season in Fairfield-Warde (Conn.)'s Amed Hourani. Webb scored a pair of takedowns to take a 4-2 lead into the second. He escaped to extend the lead in the second, getting shoved into the scorer's table on an exchange. The crowd reacted with groans and Legacy called the referee over to argue for a penalty, but Webb wouldn't have it, trying to implore Legacy to let the match continue.
"He knew I was looking for a point, he knew the kid was fatigued so he just wanted to get going," Legacy said. "He brought me back to earth a little bit."
Webb allowed an escape in the third to make it 5-3, but a gassed Hourani got no closer. At the end of the match, Hourani shoved Webb off the mat again, but the senior was undeterred and celebrated his New England crown.
"He was smart at the end, stayed in the middle of the mat," Legacy said. "He wanted to do it differently, but there's no sense to."
"[After the second shove], a guy on the bench [near the mat] asked if I was OK and I said, ‘Yeah, I'm a two-time New England champ," Webb said.
At 120 pounds, junior Troy Gassaway joined Webb at the top of the podium, moving up one step from his runner-up finish in 2013 with a 3-1 decision over Billerica, Mass.'s Nick Derosa. Gassaway scored the escape after a scoreless first period and nearly earned a takedown in the final seconds, but the referee disallowed it. Starting on top in the third, Gassaway turned Derosa for two near-fall points, the winning margin. After having his hand raised, he jumped into Legacy's arms.
"Troy came through a wicked bracket, beat the Massachusetts No. 1 in the quarters, he wasn't in trouble the whole [final]," Legacy said. "There were some near-miss points in that match too."
Gassaway was 4-0, with a pin over Ben Dow from Bedford, N.H., and decisions over Massachusetts 2 Peter Robinson and Minnechaug's Ryan Monteiro in the semifinal.
"When his feet are moving, thinking all about wrestling, he's on another level from his opponents," Legacy said. "Both he and Jesse had incredible seasons, they are smart wrestlers that took it to the next level, dominated all season long. They did what they had to do to become New England champs."
Tyler Mattison was the third Mount Anthony finalist, dropping a 7-1 decision in the 195-pound final to Nashua North's Joe Chimelski, an opponent he'd already seen twice this season.
After a scoreless opening period, Chimelski got the upper hand, escaping and scoring takedown and near-fall points. Mattison fought out for an escape late in the third, but Chimelski took the title.
"I was trying to defend the legs, that's how he beats me getting back points," said Mattison, who is 58-4 this season. "I didn't let him do that, one thing I couldn't let happen. I was trying to re-attack every shot I could, but he was doing some funky stuff."
"Tyler had four losses this year and three were to [Chimelski]," Legacy said. "He's had one heck of a year. He didn't lose to any slouch either, Chimelski is an All-American and multiple [regional] placer. Tyler will fill out into this weight, once that happens, he'll be unbelievable."
At 182, Austin Price took a step up the podium from his fourth-place finish a year ago. In the third place bout against David Burke from Exeter, N.H. Price started his run in the second, scoring an escape and a takedown. After Burke reversed seconds later, Price regained the advantage for a 5-2 lead. Burke pulled to 5-3, but could get no closer as Price came all the way back.
"Austin was a big hero for us, he could have been down and out after the loss, but he got his head together to win two matches," Legacy said.
Price had been undefeated this season until the semifinal against Nico Dionisotti of Lincoln-Sudbury (Mass.) Dionisotti topped Price 3-2 to move on and knock the senior into the consolation.
"Coming back, he earned seven points for us, that was a big deal," Legacy said. "He had 45 minutes exactly after the loss to wrestle in the next round. Only one loss by one point this season -- he's had an incredible year."
Calvin Call was sixth in his first New Englands appearance. In the fifth-place match against Zach Murillo from Southington, Conn., the first period ended up tied at 2, but Murillo took the advantage in the second with takedown and near-fall points and went into the third up 10-6. Call scored a reversal with 30 seconds left, but Call fell two points short.
"After a disappointing week at states, losing in overtime, he turned something bad into something good," Legacy said. "He won three big matches and came up a little shy for fifth. We needed him. It's been a year of someone coming up big that you don't expect when someone who is expected to come up big doesn't, and that was Calvin."
Tyler Raetz, Jack Luciano and Dylan LaFountain all finished just short of placing but won matches during the weekend to contribute to the Patriots' team score.
Raetz went 2-2, with wins over Joseph Ricciutti from EWG and Shayne McCann from Pinkerton, N.H. but was knocked out by Nashua North's Marcel Laplante, 10-2.
LaFountain reached the quarterfinal with a win over Rhode Island's Davin Lourenco, but lost 7-4 in the quarters to Emmett LiCastri. In the second round of consolations, LaFountain couldn't get untracked in a 2-1 loss to Cumberland (RI)'s Kristopher Nordby.
Luciano had a tough draw as well, reaching the quarterfinals, but losing to eventual runner-up Carl Neff from EWG. In the consolation, he lost in an overtime tie breaker 2-1 to Imran Gholizadeh from Woburn, Mass.
"Jack lost to the second and third place finishers and it was that way for the whole tournament," Legacy said. "But he's seen all of them this season, so we felt pretty comfortable, we put them in the best situation to win."
Other wrestlers competing and going 0-2 were Tabor Watson, Darren Ruiz-Sauer, Jacob Woodside, Damon Young and Noble Shaler.
With most of his New England competitors returning next year, conditions are ripe for a nearly-unprecedented three-peat.
"Just for the fact that the juniors are getting to New Englands, it's a lot of fuel for next year," Mattison said.
"It's going to be the goal," Legacy said. "We have to get the younger kids to step up and drink the Kool-Aid."