EAST PROVIDENCE â Wrestlers can get hot in much the same way a basketball player or golfer can get into âthe zoneâ in their sports.
There is a mental element to this sport that can pay dividends when a wrestler acts decisively on the mat, confident in his execution of takedown attempts, instead of taking the mat in a tentative mood.
The march to Providence College is on!
Five boysâ and two girlsâ teams will begin their quests for championship glory this weekend when their best-of-three quarterfinal round series get under way at hockey rinks scattered throughout the state.
In Division I, Mount St. Charles Academy will pursue its fourth straight state title. The Mounties are the top seed and will face eighth-seeded Smithfield on Friday at 9 p.m. at Adelard Arena and again on Saturday at 8 at the Smithfield Ice Rink.
PAWTUCKET â Rest is always welcome â just so as long as rust doesnât start to form.
Eleven days will have elapsed since St. Raphael Academyâs last game â a tough-to-swallow 77-75 loss to Coventry in the Division I quarterfinals on Feb. 21 â and the next time the Saints participate in a meaningful affair. Their reintroduction to spirited competition, complete with three referees and a neutral setting, is set for Friday night against Westerly High in the new all-inclusive state tournament at the Providence Career & Technical Academy Fieldhouse.
For most of the elite athletes in the state, including several with local ties, Fridayâs New England Interscholastic Indoor Track & Field Championships signifies the end of the winter season.
For a select few like Central Falls senior Aleide Fernandes, itâs just one more meet to prepare for the inaugural New Balance Nationals the following week.
A dozen teams from the Blackstone Valley will be shooting for the same goal â a strong postseason run that hopefully leads them to a state championship â these next two weeks when the R.I. playoffs take flight.
In two of the three division tournaments, there are clear favorites â unbeaten Barrington High is the team to beat in Division I, while powerful Middletown High leads the way in Division III.
But Division II appears to be wide-open, with a handful of teams capable of rising above the pack and winning the title.
PROVIDENCE â Regular season dual-meet results donât carry over into the tournament season. Each wrestler, no matter how big his reputation and how long his list of accomplishments, must begin anew when the opening whistle sounds to start a tournament match.
Thatâs the beauty of this sport, which focuses on a team aspect during the dual-meet season. The emphasis changes to individual results during the postseason.
As the regular season winds down, the discussion for postseason awards and other laurels heats up. Suddenly the office water cooler or neighborhood establishment becomes the spot to discuss and dissect the merits of potential candidates, while those given autonomy to cast a vote sit down with pen, paper and DVD player, study tea leaves and rub the Magic 8-Ball before filling out the ballot.
PAWTUCKET -- When Steve Reynolds took over the reins as Tolman Highâs hockey coach in the winter of â08, he inherited a team that not only graduated a talented senior class that reached the Division II quarterfinals the previous season, but was short on upperclassmen and bodies.
He also had his share of first-year players on his 16-player roster that season, and one of them was a familiar name who starred for the Tigersâ football and wrestling teams the past couple of seasons, Kyle Coutu.
PAWTUCKET --- If Tolman High and the Johnston/North Providence co-op team end up meeting in two weekends in the Division III semifinals, it should make for a truly entertaining best-of-three series.
For the second time in seven days, the two teams battled tooth and nail in an exciting high school game, but unlike their meeting last Saturday, this contest didnât end with a winner or a loser.
NORTH SMITHFIELD --- A very difficult season for Lincoln High came to a rough end on Wednesday afternoon at the hands of a tough non-tough team -- St. Johnâs High of Shrewsbury, Mass.
The 12th-ranked team in the Eastern Mass. polls showed the small gathering at the Rhode Island Sports Center why they are among the teams vying for a berth in their stateâs Division IA âSuper Eightâ tournament by skating to a 6-1 victory over the Lions.