By Dave Ricci
A league title is certainly something to be proud of, but the St.Joe’s Marauders have their eyes set on loftier goals.
Last Friday, St.Joe’s scored a 46-27 over St.Francis to claim the 2016-17 Monsignor Martin Athletic Association regular season title with a perfect 4-0 mark in league action.
But as head coach Peter Kennedy said he wants his boys to aspire to even greater things. “We just talked about it in practice today,” Kennedy said after Wednesday’s practice, “that if their only goal was to win a Buffalo area titles then we should just stop right now. If there are things out there that are available for us to win then that should be our goal. Let’s take our mindset, move it down state. Try to win championships down there and let’s conquer New York.”
The Marauders scored a total of nine wins in the victory over the Raiders.
“I think did help our confidence, but we were already confident going into the match and going into the post season,” said senior Nick Martone, who scored a 9-2 win over Nolan Thomas at 170 pounds.
With the Catholic High School Athletic Association Dual meet this weekend in Staten Island, the Marauders are in post season beast mode as they prepare for All-Catholics at Canisius High School on Feb.4 and Catholic States which will be held at St.Francis High School, Feb.11-12.
“I think the biggest thing from Friday night was that it was a total team victory,” said Kennedy.
“We asked them to step up and wrestle for each other. The whole program was having a good night. Even the younger guys were going to be ready to wrestle, if needed. Our weight classes down low produced. All year we’ve been asking the guys from 145 to 195 and sometimes above that they had to win every match if we wanted to win a dual meet.”
Kennedy said having some of his light weights, like Samuel Baker (106) and Anthony Sperrazza (120), come through with big wins against St.Francis gives the team that overall balance that is so crucial to continued success. “It’s huge,” said Kennedy. “The only way we’re going to beat these big teams down state is if we have a more balanced team.”
With the regular season in the books the Marauders have taken Kennedy’s words of “conquering New York” to heart as they enter the wrestling gym with focus and the drive to demand more from themselves and each other. “It’s a huge reminder for us that if we just stop here we’re not going to get anything done,” said Martone.
“We won Monsignor Martin, but let’s keep going and moving forward….Look to bigger things and we’ll be way better.”
Freddie Nixon, who pinned Kieron Yearwood to win the 220-pound match, echoed the words of his coach and said that the team simply cannot fall into the comfort zone of thinking they have reached their goals already.
“We’re practicing hard everyday trying to get to the top,” said Nixon. “We’re trying to be the best in the state. So just taking on Buffalo and All-Catholics, that’s not good enough. We’re trying to do the best that we can. It’s great to have a good coach like that to push us hard everyday. Focus on us. Not just one person, but everyone on the team.”
Matthew Werts (195), Caleb Lesswing (285), Ben Parish (126), Garrett House (160) and Griffin Cascio (182) also had their arms raised over St.Francis.
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