Johnston Youth Wrestling hosts state tournament

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The state’s future high school wrestling stars were on display Sunday inside Johnston High School’s Edward L. DiSimone Gymnasium.

They came from all parts of Rhode Island and represented youth wrestling programs from Woonsocket to Westerly and Newport to Narragansett.

They were armed with as much enthusiasm – and support – as the Herculean heroes who’ll wrestle in the annual New England Interscholastic High School Championships at the Providence Career Tech School.

They weighed between 37 and 170 pounds and competed for top honors in four divisions of the Rhode Island Youth State Tournament that was again hosted by the Johnston Youth Wrestling Association that received many different accolades for what officials called “being the perfect hosts.”

In the middle of it all was Lisa Baccala, the long-serving JYW President, who spent hour-upon-hour working in the kitchen to make sure the concession stand didn’t run out of food offerings.

There were several occasions, though, when Baccala excused herself so that she could join her husband Jay Baccala to watch their upstart son compete for the Middle School Division 118-127 championship.

And, after turning in what JYW Coach John Antonucci called “a great, great effort,” Nicholas Baccala came away with a first-place finish.

He was one of three JYW entries that finished in the top four of the Middle School Division. In fact, Baccala’s buddy – a.k.a. Joseph Castellone, who is only in his second year of youth wrestling, was impressive in his third-place finish in the 86-90 category.

Johnston’s Alex Morin, who competed in the 159-163 weight class, notched a fourth-place finish.

In addition to Nicholas Baccala, three other Johnston wrestlers – namely Logan Martins (65-70) and Preston Marchesseault (110-116) – finished first in the Intermediate Division, while Dylan Martins took home the coveted championship in the 83-85 weight category of the Novice Division.

Johnston wrestlers, in fact, fared well in all four divisions, as JYW had a total of 15 entries place within the top four spots of their respective weight and class categories.

In the Bantam Division, Johnston’s Joseph Marchessault (37-40), Jaiden Beradis (43-45) and Gavin Polofsky (55-60) all finished third. In Intermediate Division weight classes, Zachary Berardis (4-51) was runner-up; Sean Lavoie (60-64) was also second, while Owen Polofsky (66-71) landed fourth place.

As noted, Logan Martins and Preston Marchesseault finished on top.

In the Novice Division, Dylan Martins – as noted – was the champ, while Robert D’Alessio (90-94), Kyle Almeida (95-104) and Xander Polofsky (103-111) all finished fourth.

“I’m really, really proud of all our wrestlers and their parents,” Lisa Baccala wanted it known. “This is a building block program we all hope will enable Johnston High School to continue to have a solid wrestling program for many years to come.”

And, in keeping with the tradition that Lisa Baccala, John Antonucci and a host of volunteer coaches have created with the JYW, many of the current JHS wrestling Panthers varsity and junior varsity squads turned out to help make Sunday’s statewide tourney another success.

Likewise, parent volunteers made and donated food while also working the concession, while another Johnstonian – Lauren Papa – delivered a beautiful rendition when she sang the National Anthem.

Sunday, as many people noted, “was yet another day when the Johnston Youth Wrestling family put its best foot forward and totally enhanced the non-profit’s high-ranking statewide reputation.”

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