The Warwick Vets wrestling team has had a solid start to its 2018-19 campaign, taking a 2-3 record into midseason and going toe to toe with some of the top programs in the state in the process.
The Hurricanes field a young roster this winter, which includes a high number of sixth and seventh graders hitting the mat.
“We have a young team, we have over 40 wrestlers with five girls. Of our 17 varsity wrestlers, 11 will be returning next year which is pretty good. It’s a great building block and a great way to grow the sport in the city,” said Vets coach Kurt Keaney. “We went from 17 wrestlers last year to over 40 this year which is a huge jump. Between the infusion of sixth grade, having myself and coaches Matt McGrew and Frank Gallagher being involved with youth wrestling at Warwick PAL, we pulled a lot of kids and that’s helped the numbers. Even having a girl in our lineup has helped give other girls the confidence to get out there and give it a try which is fantastic.”
It has not always been pretty as the young Hurricanes work through some growing pains, but Keaney has been proud of the team’s hard work and mental toughness as it enters the meat of its schedule.
“We have been right in these matches, usually coming down to the last one or two weight classes to determine the outcome. We’ve been on the short end of a couple but we keep our heads up high and continue to work hard at practice. We’re hoping to see it translate on the mat,” said Keaney, who has also been pleased with his club’s performance against some of the elite local teams. “Feinstein and Western Hills have been a force in wrestling and we hung in there with those guys which was great. It was a confidence booster for the coaches and wrestlers knowing that we can hold our own against these top teams that have been in the upper echelon of middle school wrestling over the past few years.”
Although Vets is a young group, it still has a handful of eighth graders that have left their mark on the program.
“We have a few eighth graders that have really stepped up and have taken over the practice room. Skylar Reid likes to get the team going at practice, Josh Souza as well. They’ve really taken over the leadership role that has been helpful for the coaches,” said Keaney.
Overall, Keaney and the Vets staff have their sights set on continued growth, which they hope will result in a strong showing on the state’s biggest stage next month.
“To us, it’s going to be about seeing improvement on the mat each time we are out there on our way to the state championships in February. We want to put all of our eggs into that basket and have a good showing there,” said Keaney. “We have high expectations, to say that we would be disappointed to not finish in the top-5 would be a true statement … we feel that we have that good of a team.”