Bob's BLOG

Wrestling, wrestling, wrestling and maybe a little extra

As the Season Turns

The season is chugging along and the Golden Eagles are improving by leaps and bounds as the post season draws near. The guys just came off the Central Wrestling Festival weekend and had a great showing. The team went 2-2 with losses against Lincoln-Sudbury and St John’s Prep and wins against Shawsheen Tech and Agawam. The real story is that the guys wrestled with heart in the face of adversity and did a pretty great job against some very good teams. The weekend was not without it’s problems however, with Matt Garcia warming the bench with a knee injury. Matt’s absence left a big hole in the starting lineup that was filled by Alex Son who managed to grab two wins for the team and pick up the slack. The Lincoln-Sudbury match was very close and I can’t help thinking that with Matt in the lineup, the outcome would have been different. Central and Lincoln-Sudbury matched up very well and the match was close from beginning to end. I can’t say the same for the match against St John’s Prep. They are a very good team and flat out beat the Golden Eagles soundly. The guys did manage a nice win against a very good Shawsheen Tech team to turn things around and then rounded out the day by putting a shellacking on an Agawam team that looks as though they are rebuilding quite nicely. It’s great to see Agawam filling a lineup and battling with teams outside of Western Mass. Perhaps we can get back to the days when Agawam and Central would duke it out for top dog in Western Mass. Wouldn’t that be great!

Stand outs for the Golden Eagles at the festival were Alan Rivera-Moore, Dohnovan Harvey, Jerome Williams, Ryan Pinkham and Joe Luna who all finished the day with a 3-1 record. Joel Serrano had a great day going 4-0 for the team, but the best performance of the day had to be Keith Gordon who went 4-0 with four pins in a total of just over three minutes. Keith hit the mat every match in high gear and didn’t stop until his opponent was laying on his back looking at the gym ceiling trying to figure out how they got there. The improvement in Keith’s wrestling from last year is incredible. It probably doesn’t hurt that he is bigger and stronger this season. The move to 126 from 106 doesn’t seem to have slowed him down.

The best match of the day, hands down, has to be Joe Luna against Agawam’s heavyweight Tayron Brooks. Joe chose down in the second period and was caught with a tilt that quickly turned into a pinning combination. Joe held one shoulder off the mat by millimeters for about 30 seconds that seemed more like 30 minutes and was saved by the buzzer. He managed to avoid the pin, but was down 3-0 going into the third period and Brooks chose top hoping to put him on his back again. Joe proved resilient as he managed a quick escape to grab a point. With about 5 seconds left in the third period, Joe managed to grab a leg and topple the big heavyweight for two points to tie the score. You could feel the momentum shift. Joe was pumped and Brooks looked like he didn’t have much left in the tank. The outcome seemed inevitable. Overtime saw Joe quickly shoot to the leg and and drop to a double. The big man went down and the match was over. One of the greatest comebacks I have ever seen. It’s matches like that that keep me coming back for more.

This Wednesday sees the Golden Eagles traveling to East Longmeadow to wrestle a dual meet against an East Longmeadow squad that hasn’t been able to fill a half of a lineup all season. This dual will be little more than a brief diversion for the team as they get ready to travel to Methuen on the weekend for the Methuen Invitational Tournament. This should be a good test going into the final days of the season of the team’s tournament strength.

With just a couple weeks left in the season it’s not too early to start thinking about the Western Mass Tournament. This year’s tournament looks to be a real battle for supremacy as West Side, Putnam, Minnechaug and Central all have the capacity to score big in the tournament. With this many teams with the potential to score high, it could be anyone’s chance to grab the trophy. Don’t miss it on February 13th at Central!!


Central Victorious!

It was the big showdown. West Side and Central were both undefeated in league play and that streak was going to end for one of the teams. This evening the victor would be the Central Golden Eagles as they romped over West Side by a score of 45-20 and for all intents and purposes earned the league championship for 2016. Unless Central is upset a couple times, the League championship is theirs for the taking.

The match started out tight. With the festivities starting at 220 lbs, Ryan Pinkham eked out a 4-2 victory over Brandt O’Hara to put Central on the board 3-0. Joe Luna then did his thing and pinned Jeff Vample. Central was up 9-0. Central hasn’t had a wrestler at 106 all season and gave up the forfeit and the 6 points to West Side. Christen Laporatti then Beat Central’s Stephen Tran by technical fall 18-1 and West Side was in the lead. It looked as though we were in for a very close match. Unfortunately, that’s when the wheels fell off for West Side.  Matt Garcia decisioned Alex Alvarado to take the lead back and the Golden Eagles never looked back. West Side would only claim two bouts after that and never really got back into the competition. Keith Gordon (126), Alan Rivera-Moore (138), Joel Serrano (160) and Jerome Williams (182) all scored falls for the Golden Eagles. Anthony Tangredi scored West Side’s only fall of the evening at 170 lbs. The match was beyond West Side’s reach after Serrano pinned Vaunell Hill at 160. The rest was just gravy.

It seems like the guys are starting to peak in time for the post season. Western Mass should be a horse race this season. The Golden Eagles will be trying for their twelfth straight sectional championship, but this one isn’t going to be easy. It’s anyone’s game. The team will get tested some more this Saturday when the Golden Eagles host their annual dual meet festival. It’s always a good time against some of the best teams in New England and one more chance for the guys to get battle hardened. This event was cancelled last year due to snow and hopefully this week’s predicted nor’easter will hold off or pass by gently so the tournament can go on.


West Springfield – The Battle for League Supremacy

The Golden Eagles are coming off of a pretty great weekend. The Varsity traveled to Long Island on Saturday to participate in the Kris McDonald Islip Cup. They finished third against some pretty strong NY teams and ended up with the most placers for any tournament this season. They managed to do this missing four weight classes. (99, 106, 113, 195). Finishing as tournament champions were Joel Serrano and Joe Luna. Grabbing second place honors were Matt Garcia, and Keith Gordon. Luis Munoz took third, Alan Rivera-Moore took 4th and Gilberto Rodriguez placed 5th. It was a good showing in a tough tournament.

The JV Squad then traveled to West Side for the annual Martin Luther King Jr JV Tournament. They managed to grab 10 championship T-Shirts while showcasing the future of the program. Coach Rollin was so proud his buttons would have popped of his shirt if he had had any buttons on it. The guys stepped up and got the job done.

It was all a great workout leading up to the big match at West Side on Wednesday, January 20. The Golden Eagles will be invading the West Side gym in the hope of defeating the Terriers in their own gym. This is the biggest dual of the season for the guys and the league championship is on the line. Both teams are undefeated in the league, and short of a miracle, should have no problem with the remainder of their league schedules. So, this one is for the marbles. I expect that this meet will draw a lot of attention and should have a big crowd. I predict a loud crowd, some tough wrestling and some very emotional matches. The fun starts at 7 PM.

Central Defeats Putnam

Central is rebuilding this year, and everyone knows it. Putnam has a very strong team this season, probably their strongest team in a very long time. They came into the nest tonight with the knowledge that they had a very good chance at defeating the Golden Eagles.  The Golden Eagles knew that also. This was a neighborhood battle. A battle for bragging rights. A league match that meant a lot to both teams. Putnam had lost to West Side last week and knew that they would have to beat Central if they were going to have a shot at the league title. Fans for both teams packed into the stands and the gym was electric. I haven’t seen this kind of a turnout for a league match in Springfield in a very long time. It felt a lot like the early 2000’s when everyone in Western Mass was competing at a high level. It was loud, and it was fun! The two teams battled with everything they had and in the end Central came out on top.

There weren’t a lot of surprises, there weren’t a lot of pins. Both sides held fast and kept too many bonus points from being scored. This was one of those matches where a lot of the Central guys lost, but lost well. They stayed off their backs and kept the damage to 3 points. Central managed to garner 3 pins (Matt Garcia at 120, Jerome Williams at 170 and Joe Luna at 220) against Putnam’s 1 pin (Brandon Pastore at 132). Keith Gordon at 126 scored a technical fall for Central. The final score was 35-23 and Central was able to maintain its place atop the league. Next week it will happen all over again as the Golden Eagles travel to West Side to face the Terriers in a match that will in all probability decide the league champion. I expect that West Side’s gym will be as loud and rowdy as the nest was on this night. The guys will have to stay focused for that one, because I know that the West Side staff will have their team primed and ready for the challenge. The league is pretty wide open this year and it looks like the Western Mass Championships will be a battle royale at the end of it all. It could be anybody’s year for the title, as the Golden Eagles try to make it 12 in a row. The Golden Eagles will need to continue to grind it out. Looks like it’s going to be very exciting all the way till the bitter end.

The Return of Bob’s Blog!

I am sure that most of you have noticed by now that there hasn’t been a lot of posts on the blog. I have been jammed up at work and haven’t been able to even get to many matches, let alone write. Things seem to be normalizing somewhat now and so it’s time to get things back on track. Hopefully, I will be able to make most of the tournaments now. I will be available on Wednesday nights only sporadically, but that is a story for another time. Luckily, I have enlisted the aid of an alum of the Golden Eagles to help with the video duties. If you have been following the team for a long time, you will remember Shawn Teece. He was a member of the class of ’06 and was on the team that won the first Western Mass Championship in the current streak in 2005, and also on the team that gave Coach McLaughlin his first state championship in 2006. He helped out on the Minnechaug dual meet and I am hoping he will be able to help out again during the course of the season. It would be great to see more of the original team members get involved in one way or another. I am not getting any younger, you know.

Anyway, now I can get back to what I enjoy, WRESTLING! This year’s team has a much different look than the teams we have gotten used to over the course of the last 9 or ten years. There are a lot of guys that came out for the team this year, but a lot of them are first year wrestlers. We only have one senior with previous varsity experience, and of course that would be Joe Luna. Big Joe has started off the season with a bang, placing at the Xcalibur tournament at Wyoming Seminary and then placing fifth at the Lowell Holiday Tournament. It looks like Joe is set to have a great senior year, and believe me, the team will be counting on him for leadership in the wrestling room.

The largest class by far is the juniors, who have a bunch of returning wrestlers. Returning starters include Western Mass Champs Matt Garcia, Keith Gordon, Alan Rivera-Moore, Joel Serrano, and Ryan Pinkham. Also returning is junior Demetrius Sturdivant. These guys, along with Joe Luna, form the core of this year’s team.

If tradition means anything, this team will improve vastly as the season goes on. How could we expect anything else with  the coaching staff that is leading the team? Head coach Darby McLaughlin has a history of building great wrestlers from scratch and he is pushing these guys pretty hard. Returning from last year to assist in the coaching duties are Andrew Ingham, Mike Rafferty and Bill Rollin.

This may be a rebuilding year, but I still expect there will be some great wrestling from this team and I am sure a few surprises as well. As always the goal is to do well in the post season, but there is still a lot of wrestling between now and then. We can talk more about that as the time gets closer.

For now the guys are grinding their way through the season, most recently in West Springfield at the West Side duals on Saturday. The team performed well and started strong with victories against North Andover and Franklin. After that the wrestling was much more difficult as New York powerhouse Averill Park and Connecticut’s perennial top seeded team, New Milford, showed the Golden Eagles that there was a lot more work to do. The guys ended up 2 and 2 on the day, and even with the final two drubbings, there were many bright spots on the day. Sophomore Peter Leung posted his first win of the season against North Andover and even with the losses after that, Peter showed a lot of improvement on this very young season. Also showing promise was sophomore Christopher Barrera. Chris is a first year wrestler who has a great work ethic and broke into the starting line up right away. He is steadily improving and looks great on the mat. I am sure that under the tutelage of Coach McLaughlin, he will be a permanent member of the starting lineup. There are a lot of first year wrestlers that are vying for starting positions and the cream is already starting to rise to the top. I wasn’t sure what to expect at the start of the season. There seemed to be a lot of holes in the lineup. However, with this coaching staff, holes tend to get filled fairly rapidly. It’s certainly going to be interesting.

I certainly want to give a shout out to Tom Svec and the West Springfield staff and team. The tournament on Saturday was everything we have come to expect from that great organization. The tournament was well run, there was a great selection at the booster club concession stand, and the coaches lunch was delectably mouth-watering and satisfying. These people know how to put on a tournament.

Thank Tom Svec for the correction. I thought this week was against Putnam, but I got my weeks crossed up. This Wednesday we will be Hosting Mount Anthony, as the Patriots invade the nest. This meet has become one of the highlights of the wrestling season. Mount Anthony is one of the top teams in New England and one of Central’s toughest matches. Come on down to the nest to check out the action.

Wrestling at Last! (Central defeats Minnechaug)

The season has finally started. I have been procrastinating about this first blog entry of the season. This season figured to be much different from recent past seasons. This year feels like a rebuilding season. I suppose that can be expected after the great run Central has had the past seven years. There was bound to be a hangover sooner or later. This team is very young. However, this is still Central wrestling and that means tough wrestling on the mat. With 73 wrestlers on the roster, the cream is bound to rise to the top. Time will tell. There are a few battle hardened veterans returning to the lineup this season. Senior Joe Luna, Juniors Keith Gordon, Matt Garcia, Alan Rivera-Moore, Joel Serrano, and Ryan Pinkham all bring leadership and experience to the team. Freshman Luis Munoz brings his youth wrestling experience to the varsity mat and should be fun to watch.

The Golden Eagles put their lineup on display tonight in a somewhat abbreviated form. The Falcons of Minnechaug visited the nest with 8 weight classes and a few strong wrestlers. Minnechaug doesn’t have the numbers to fill out a full lineup, but the wrestlers they do have are some of the best in the state.  Ryan Montiero (145) and Benton Whitley (195) are arguably the two best wrestlers for the Falcons, and both scored victories by fall for the Falcons. Lucas Gobel at 152 scored a victory over Central rookie Christopher Barrera. Barrera wrestled valiantly to stave off a fall and kept the damage to four points in a 14-0 loss. The match of the night was at 126 lbs with Central’s Keith Gordon toeing the line against Minnechaug’s Riley Jacobson. Keith came out the victor in an exciting 4-2 match that could have gone either way. The final score was 51 – 25 in favor of the Golden Eagles.

This is going to be a season where the Golden Eagles may take a couple of lumps early on, but being as young as they are, they will improve with experience. It feels a lot like old school Central wrestling. Fighting for every scrap and holding on for dear life. The team is deep and starters will change as the season progresses, but the cream will rise. It could be a pretty fun ride.

Golden Eagles Step Out Against Breast Cancer

The Golden Eagles Wrestling Team is getting together pre season to help in the fight against breast cancer.

The team will be walking in the Rays of Hope Walk towards the cure of breast cancer.

Check out our home page HERE for details.

You can also find details on their Rays of Hope page HERE.

Please help them in their effort to raise money for this organizations. All contributions remain local.


I have enjoyed the lull after the end of the season. There are a lot of things that need doing in life that take a back seat during the wrestling season. I have spent that last couple weeks getting things done around the house that have been waiting for attention. I have done a lot of relaxing and renewing my spirit, and I have been spending a little time with my wife Elizabeth who is always a little happier when the season ends. However, there are still a couple of pieces left before we can officially “end” the season. I will be working on the end of season video in preparation of the banquet and there is also the small matter of the NHSCA National Tournament.

Nationals is next week, March 27-29 and the team has plans to send four wrestlers with their coaches to Virginia Beach to compete against some of the best wrestlers in the country. I have been to this tournament and I can attest to the fact that there truly are athletes from all over the USA. It is a place for seniors to showcase their talent and underclassmen to see how they compare to the best of the best. The matches are tough, the wrestling is incredible and the competition is fierce. It is the kind of competition that can only be found at an event like this. It is important for the wrestlers to see this type of competition and learn how to handle it. They must learn how to get their minds and bodies ready to perform at the highest level in a short amount of time. At a tournament like this they can see in real time the value of all of the hard work and training. They can see that there are other goals worth striving for beyond a state title. Some may even find the seeds of leadership that are so important for the rest of the team. The question this year is, are they all going to be able to go?

With a week left, there is the distinct possibility that we may not have enough funds to send everyone that we want or need to. Our fundraising this season was hampered by the cancellation of one of our top two fund raisers, the Central Wrestling Festival. We can usually count on making about 1500 – 2000 dollars with this event. It goes a long way toward funding food and hotel rooms for many of our away tournaments. With a snowstorm wiping out that income it has forced us to run a deficit for the season. Many of us have already dug deep into our personal finances to finish this season. There just isn’t anything left. We knew it was a big ask this year for $6500 to send the kids to Nationals, but we all felt that this is too big an opportunity to simply give up on. Jonathan Viruet claimed the national championship as a junior last year and is poised to make a run at the championship again this year. Jon is going to go and compete. That is about all that is funded right now. What coaches and what other wrestlers are going to be able to go is still up in the air. If we don’t get a big push in fundraising over the course of the next week, our underclassmen will not be able to compete, our season will remain in the red, and we will have missed a big opportunity to make next year’s team better and stronger.

Last year the community stepped up big and fully funded the trip. You could see the results this season. Third division one state title, second all state title, and an individual championship for Jon at New Englands. The last couple years have seen many college coaches start looking at Central wrestlers for scholarships. Last year Rick Viruet earned a scholarship to Drexel and this year Jonathan will be heading out for Brown University while Jástice Bolden is headed to Westfield State on a scholarship. Central success goes far beyond the mat. It just takes funds to keep these programs going, funds that are hard to come by in the inner city.

I am making one last, desperate plea to my friends in the wrestling community. Help us get these kids to the tournament. It’s good for our city, it’s good for our State. For those of you in other programs in the state, it’s good for you too. If college coaches are looking this way, your kids will be in their sights also. It is good for all of us if Massachusetts wrestling is represented. Please help.

Click on the link below and make a donation, any donation. It doesn’t matter if it’s one dollar or a thousand dollars, we appreciate any help. Be a part of Central history, be a part of Central tradition, Fly with the Eagles.

You can find a place to donate right HERE

Central Eagles

Central Eagles

2X All-State Champs

Central Golden Eagles 2X All-State Champs

Central Golden Eagles 2X All-State Champs

This one wasn’t easy, but then again, it’s All-States. The coaching staff felt pretty confident going into the tournament that the team could pull off it’s second straight All-State team championships. Central had the highest number of wrestlers and there was even talk of maybe putting 7 guys through to New Englands. Everything looked like it was going according to plan after the first round. Only two wrestlers lost their first match and the team was up about 25 points. Things were looking pretty good. That great start was about to change into a tense night for the Golden Eagles. Kenny Alvarez and Ryan Pinkham both lost their second match to get knocked out of the tournament and Keith Gordon, Eric Rodriguez, Nick Koury and Jered Escribano all lost their quarterfinal match. Matt Garcia, Jon Viruet and Jástice Bolden won to finish Friday and advance to the semifinals on Saturday. The last round of the night on Friday was a consolation round that is usually referred to as the “heartbreak” round. It’s called that because if you don’t win, you are out of the tournament and Saturday you are a spectator and not a wrestler. The hope was that a few guys would win, score some points for the day and cement their position in the tournament. Heartbreak was the proper term on this night. Keith Gordon, Eric Rodriguez and Nick Koury all got knocked out of the tourney. Jered Escribano ended up taking a forfeit due to an injury default and scored the only points of that round. The team was down to four wrestlers and the lead had dropped to 10 points. Lowell was nipping at the heels of the Golden Eagles and they had 6 wrestlers still alive into the second day. Lowell is a great team with a great coach. The prospect of Lowell making a run at the title was sobering for the coaching staff. This was going to be a difficult win at best. Friday night was spent going over scenarios that would get the team the win. It wasn’t easy to sleep Friday night. Saturday morning didn’t start well either. Matt Garcia wrestled a great semifinal match for three periods. The score was 4-4 and the match went into overtime. Matt gave up a quick takedown for the loss and it stunned the team. Nerves were on edge. Coaches were grumpy. All we could do was sit and watch as Lowell piled up the wins and the points. Before Jon and Jástice even had a chance to wrestle, Lowell pulled to within 1/2 of a point. It was going to be up to the “triple J’s” to pull this one off. Jonathan defeated the only Lowell wrestler (Brandon Sao) in the championship bracket and Jástice defeated Josh Bechen from Catholic Memorial in his semifinal match. Jered Escribano then capped the round off with a win in the consolation quarterfinals. Those three wins basically sealed the deal for the team title. The title wasn’t clinched yet, but it would have taken an extraordinary performance by any team to catch up. It was time to relax and finish out the tournament. Everyone’s mood elevated, the coaching staff started laughing again, and you could feel the tension drain from the air. Central was going to win the All-State title for the second straight year. All that was left was to see how far the four remaining wrestlers could go. Matt Garcia lost his consolation semifinal match and wrestled for fifth place which he captured. Jástice Bolden lost to the only wrestler he has not been able to defeat this season, Fritz Hoehn from North Andover who was voted most outstanding wrestler of the tournament. Jered Escribano finished in fifth place. Jon Viruet won. He became one of two wrestlers on the night to capture a third All-State title. Jon Viruet was also inducted into the Massachusetts wrestling hall of fame by virtue of his three state titles.

This tournament took it’s toll on most of the coaches. I don’t know how the rest felt after the ordeal, but personally, I was drained. By the time I got home from Salem. it was 11:30 at night and all I wanted to do was hit the sack. Sunday was hectic. By the time I was able to reflect and digest the day, it was 5:00 PM. I have spent 3 hours putting this blog entry together and I still don’t have a handle on my feelings. Here is what I know. Working with these kids is tiring. It is truly a labor of love, why else would we do it. Every loss takes a little bit of your energy, a little bit of you. I have been to many tournaments both regular season and post season, but the All-State tournament takes more of you than any of the others. The competition is brutal. It’s the best wrestlers in Massachusetts in one tournament competing for something that they all want very badly. These wrestlers are passionate, they all train harder and longer than anyone else. They all dream of the day when they will stand at the top of the winners platform and get the first place trophy. Every time one of them loses, anytime, any round, they are devastated. Most matches end with one wrestler celebrating in adrenalin filled joy and the other wrestler either angry or in tears. The coaches are then left to either console the losers or bring the winners back to reality to get ready for the next match where the cycle starts all over. When you go to this tournament with 2 or 3 wrestlers it is hard enough, but when you have nine it is incredibly draining. Add to all of that the craziness of competing for a team title and you have a recipe for ulcers. When the tournament is over the wrestlers that place are bruised, bloody and broken. They have given all that they had to get to the winners podium. Their reward is to lick their wounds and get ready for a more brutal tournament in 6 days. Most do it. Some can’t.

Central has been on an incredible run. I don’t know how long it can keep going, but it won’t end because anyone gives up. It won’t end because the coaching staff stops caring. It will be after every coach, every wrestler, every booster club parent and friend, every fan, has given everything they had, all of the time. All of the money and the effort that it takes to run through a season, and when it is all over and the wrestling has ended, the team comes up short. There will be no one to blame. There will be no regrets. There will be no excuses. The team will regroup and start all over the next season. Right now, this season, the results are good. I am sure when I have had a chance to recuperate, and digest the whole of the experience, I will be able to articulate my feelings a little better. When history is being made, it is hard to understand the enormity of what is happening. Believe me when I tell you, that this is indeed history being made. This is indeed one of the times of our lives we will be telling future generations about. There are a lot of “remember when” moments being created right before our eyes. I am honored to be a small part of it all. I am honored to give my time, my energy, and a little piece of myself to be a part of it all. I can’t speak for the rest of the coaches, but I would bet a weeks pay that they all feel the same. I love working with these guys and I love seeing the way that kids lives are changed. I love seeing boys become men. I love it all. I still get asked if this is my last season. Let me ask you a question. How could I ever stop doing something that I love as much as this?

New Englands next weekend.

State Champions X3

Three-Peat Team

Three-Peat Team

Back in 2006 the Golden Eagles won the state championship for the first time. It was the logical progression of the way the team was improving. Coach McLaughlin took over in the 2002 season and coached the team up to Western Mass champs in the first four years. That was the 2005 championship team that started the current streak of 11 Western Mass team titles. When the team won the State championship the following year, it was easy to think that this would be something that would happen fairly often. I soon began to realize that winning a state title was a lot harder than that. It was seven years before the team would repeat that achievement. There were some great teams during that time. I remember the 2011 team that lost the state title to Lawrence. That team was stacked. Coach McLaughlin would call it one of the greatest teams he ever had. If that team couldn’t get it done, what hope was there? What we didn’t know at the time was that Central Wrestling was about to change drastically. That 2011 team featured a young, skinny 130 lb wrestler that was special. You could tell by the way he wrestled as a freshman that there was greatness. That young man was Rick Viruet. When Rick joined the team as a freshman, he brought his whole family with him. Every dual meet, every tournament, Rick and Janet were there. Rick Sr. brought a new idea to the program. Rick Sr. championed the idea of scheduling a season that challenged the team on every level. Rick wanted to put our team in a position to face the best teams in the country and learn from the experience. Coach McLaughlin liked the idea. A new philosophy was born. When Central went to the D1 state team tournament in 2012, the team had a record of 7 wins and 10 losses. When the announcers asked what our record was for the semifinal round he was astonished when he heard it. The question on everyone’s mind was, “What is this team doing here with this record?”. It was a new way of thinking. The season record didn’t matter. The season was the training time for the post season. All that mattered was getting to the post season and then progressing through the post season. The team didn’t win the state title in 2012, but the foundation had been laid. That 2012 team featured sophomore Rick Viruet and freshman Jon Viruet. These two brothers became the heart and soul of the team. With the way that they wrestled and the way that their dad preached using sports and academics to pave the way for college, the entire culture of the team began to change. 2013 was the year it all came together. It was also the year that the team title would go back to being awarded at the individual tournament. Rick and Jonathan lead the way with individual championships that propelled the team to the state championship. The philosophy paid off. During the 2013 season the team had wrestled dual meets (and lost) to nationally ranked teams Blair Academy and Wyoming Seminary. They had wrestled through (and beaten) such teams as St. Benedicts and Benton Academy for the privilege to face those top ranked teams. It was a new way of thinking. Central wanted to wrestle the best teams they could, win or lose, they wanted the competition. It brought everyone up to a level never before achieved. This philosophy brought the Golden Eagles another D1 state title in 2014 as well as the first ever All State title in the history of Massachusetts. The tradition continues in 2015. The winning culture has rubbed off on the newer wrestlers. The work ethic has been set. Everyone on the practice mat understands what it means to be a Golden Eagles Wrestler. The practice is hard, the expectations are high, the rewards are limitless. The examples are there for all to see. This post season is not over yet. But right now, the Golden Eagles have a third consecutive D1 state title and nine wrestlers heading off to All States next weekend. Of those nine, four are seniors, 1 is a junior and 4 are sophomores. This is the final season of the Viruet era, but their influence will be felt at Central High for many years to come. The future shows no sign of letting up. The culture is permanently changed. There are still a few challenges to go this season and a few stories to play out, but so far, the train is moving down the tracks and it is going to take something extraordinary to slow it down.

Here are the place winners from the tournament. Keith Gordon at 106 lbs placed third. Matt Garcia at 113 lbs placed second. Kenny Alvarez at 120 lbs placed fifth. Eric Rodriguez at 138 lbs placed 4th. Jonathan Viruet at 160 lbs is champion. Jástice Bolden at 170 lbs is champion. Nick Koury at 182 lbs placed fourth. Jered Escribano suffered a sprained ankle in the semifinals and still wrestled back to take fourth. Ryan Pinkham placed fourth.

The accolades didn’t stop there. Being voted coach of the year was our very own Coach McLaughlin. Voted assistant coach of the year was Andrew Ingham. The prestigious outstanding wrestler award was awarded to Jon Viruet. Jon’s third state title gives him automatic entry into the Mass State Wrestling Hall of Fame. The team’s third consecutive D1 state title has only been equaled by Lowell High School from 1973 – 1975.

A few weeks ago I said that this team was making history right before our eyes. Pay attention. Savor the moment. These are the times that people will still be talking about years into the future. Congratulations to the team, the coaching staff, and the booster club parents and friends. Let’s keep this train moving down the tracks. Next weekend All States, the following week New Englands. I love this sport.